A rapid and simple on-line method is described for the preconcentration of Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb from sea water using 8-hydroxyquinoline immobilized onto silicone tubing (Sil-8-HQ) via the Mannich reaction. Recoveries between 35 and 95% and limits of detection in the ppt range were obtained using a 2 m long Sil-8-HQ tube with a sample flow rate of 1.0 mi min(-1). A tube could be subjected to sample loading and elution cycles over 200 times. The capacity was 1.5 and 1.3 mu g cm(-2) for Cu and Mn, respectively. Cu, Cd, Co, Pb, Mn, Zn and Ni were determined in coastal and open ocean seawater using flow injection inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (FI-ICP-MS). Good agreement with certified values for the certified reference materials NASS-4 and CASS-3 was demonstrated when quantitation was undertaken by the method of additions. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.