Abstract The combined uncertainty in the analytical results of solid materials for two methods (ET-AAS, analysis after prior sample digestion and direct solid sampling) are derived by applying the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement from the International Standards Organization. For the analysis of solid materials, generally, three uncertainty components must be considered: (i) those in the calibration, (ii) those in the unknown sample measurement and (iii) those in the analytical quality control (AQC) process. The expanded uncertainty limits for the content of cadmium and lead from analytical data of biological samples are calculated with the derived statistical estimates. For both methods the expanded uncertainty intervals are generally of similar width, if all sources of uncertainty are included. The relative uncertainty limits for the determination of cadmium range from 6% to 10%, and for the determination of lead they range from 8% to 16%. However, the different uncertainty components contribute to different degrees. Though with the calibration based on reference solutions (digestion method) the respective contribution may be negligible (precision < 3%), the uncertainty from a calibration based directly on a certified reference material (CRM) (solid sampling) may contribute significantly (precision about 10%). In contrast to that, the required AQC measurement (if the calibration is based on reference solutions) contributes an additional uncertainty component, though for the CRM calibration the AQC is “built-in”. For both methods, the uncertainty in the certified content of the CRM, which is used for AQC, must be considered. The estimation of the uncertainty components is shown to be a suitable tool for the experimental design in order to obtain a small uncertainty in the analytical result.