Abstract A Perkin-Elmer Sciex Elan 500 ICP-MS is equipped with a translation system with which the torch box can be positioned manually by means of three knobs. In the course of our work, it was felt that this positioning was difficult to perform and hardly reproducible. It was decided to modify the system by changing the manual controls using an electronic control device. Three d.c. servo-motors were built into the Elan 500, driving the torch box in the X-, Y-and Z-directions. For each axis, the displacement is measured and displayed on a digital voltmeter. The analytical performance of the XYZ-translation system is illustrated by means of maximizing ion count rate while minimizing the influence of oxide- and doubly charged ions. Finally, the XYZ-translation system was completely incorporated into the Elan 500.