XAD copolymer resins maybe functionalized with heavy metal ion-selective ligands either by covalent linkage to the polymer backbone orby impregnation. These resins may be tailored to be specific for certain heavy metals by adjusting the adsorption and elution parameters, thereby enabling simple and cost-effective spectrophotometric and flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) determinations of these metals without requiring the more sophisticated coupled instrumental techniques. For the synthesis of o-aminobenzoic acid (ABA)-immobilized XAD-4 copolymer resin that is expected to preconcentrate a number of transition and heavy metals, the azo-linkage method was chosen. For this purpose the copolymer was nitrated, reduced to the corresponding amine, converted to the diazonium salt with nitrite, and reacted with o-aminobenzoic acid to produce the XAD-ABA sorbent. This sorbent was capable of preconcentrating Pb(II), Cd(II), Ni(II), Co(II) and Zn(II) from weakly acidic or neutral aqueous solution. The retained metals were eluted with 1.0 M HNO3 from the resin column, and were subsequently determinated with by flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The developed resin preconcentration and determination method was successfully applied to the analysis of a synthetic metal mixture solution, a certified reference material (CRM) of coal sample, and brackish lake water. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.