An introduction to quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry

J Mass Spectrom. 2001 Aug;36(8):849-65. doi: 10.1002/jms.207.


A brief introduction is presented to the basic principles and application of a quadrupole-time-of-flight (TOF) tandem mass spectrometer. The main features of reflecting TOF instruments with orthogonal injection of ions are discussed. Their operation and performance are compared with those of triple quadrupoles with electrospray ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) TOF mass spectrometers. Examples and recommendations are provided for all major operational modes: mass spectrometry (MS) and tandem MS (MS/MS), precursor ion scans and studies of non-covalent complexes. Basic algorithms for liquid chromatography/MS/MS automation are discussed and illustrated by two applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calibration
  • Cattle
  • Equipment Design
  • Insulin / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry* / instrumentation
  • Mass Spectrometry* / methods
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization


  • Insulin
  • Peptide Fragments