Abstract An innovative procedure for the on-line coupling of ion chromatography with graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry is described, which is particularly effective for the determination of trace metals in seawater samples. The Capillary Injection Device (CID) is used as an interface which allows the eluent to be transferred from the chromatographic column into the graphite tube at a flow rate of as high as 2 ml/min. The analytical procedure is based on the metal complex formation with 8-hydroxyquinoline in the sample solution, followed by the preconcentration of the complexes in a chromatographic column packed with XAD-2 resin. The complexes were then eluted from the column with methanol, and quantitatively injected into the furnace. The procedure was validated by determining cadmium and lead in certified reference seawater samples at a level of 30–40 pg/g, with a typical reproducibility of 10% and an accuracy of better than 5%. Finally, it was tested on a real sample of seawater. Due to the high reproducibility, a pg/g concentration level can be measured.