A new concept is presented for selective and sensitive determination of trace metals via electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS) based on the principle of bead injection (BI) with renewable reversed-phase surfaces in a sequential injection-lab-on-valve (SI-LOV) mode. The methodology involves the use of poly(styrene-divinylbenzene) beads containing pendant octadecyl moieties (C18-PS/DVB), which are preimpregnated with a selective organic metal chelating agent prior to the automatic manipulation of the beads in the microbore conduits of the LOV unit. By adapting this approach, the immobilization of the most suitable chelating agent can be effected irrespective of the kinetics involved, optimal reaction conditions can be used for implementing the chelating reaction of the target metal analyte with the immobilized reagent, and an added degree of freedom is offered in selecting the most favourable elution mode in order to attain the highest sensitivity. The potential of the SI-BI-LOV scheme is demonstrated by taking Cr(VI) as a model analyte, using a 1,5-diphenylcarbazide (DPC)-loaded bead column as the active microzone. As this reaction requires the use of high acidity, it is also shown that the bead material exhibits excellent chemical stability at low pH values. On-line pH sample adjustment prevents alteration of the original distribution of chromium species while assuring fast rates for the DPC-Cr(VI) reaction. The proposed procedure was successfully applied to the determination of trace levels of Cr(VI) in natural waters containing high levels of dissolved salts (such as seawater and hard tap water) without requiring any dilution step. Method validation was performed by determination of total chromium in an NIST standard reference material (NIST 1640, natural water) after Cr(III) oxidation, and the results were in good agreement with the certified value.