An electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) method, in both positive and negative ion modes, was developed for characterization of disulfonamide ligands derived from o-phenylenediamine and their Pb(II) complexes. For the ligands, negative ion mode ESI-MS in methanolic solutions gave simple and easily interpretable mass spectra. However, the spectra of Pb complexes were not readily interpretable under the same conditions. Protonated ligands and their Pb(II) complexes were observed in methanolic solutions by ESI-MS in positive ion mode. The formation of Na(+), K(+), or NH(4) (+) adducts was also observed, complicating the mass spectra and decreasing the signal intensity. In order to optimize the detection of the ligands and the Pb complexes, a method was developed by adding NaOAc in the solutions. The presence of 0.2 mM NaOAc simplified the mass spectra of the ligands and the Pb complexes, and significantly increased sensitivity in both negative and positive ion modes. This modification makes ESI-MS in both modes suitable for characterization of sulfonamide ligands and their Pb complexes, thus providing a potentially powerful tool for evaluating formation of metal complexes and screening combinatorial ligand libraries.