Abstract A simple, integrated method for the speciation of chromium in wastewater and sewage sludge was developed, utilising liquid anion exchange by Amberlite LA-2 (LAES) and final determination by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS). Samples were filtered through a 0.45 μm membrane filter and chromium species were determined in filtered water samples and in sludge on the filters. In the former case (filtrate), total Cr was determined directly by ETAAS, while for the determination of Cr(VI) the filtrate was buffered to pH 6.4, extracted with LAES and Cr(VI) was determined in the organic extract. Cr(III) was determined by the difference. In the latter case (filter), the filters were leached with an alkaline buffer solution (pH 12.7) and the supernatant was subjected to the same extraction procedure. For the determination of total leachable Cr, the filters were subjected to acid leaching with dilute HNO 3 (pH 1) and the supernatant was subjected to ETAAS, after appropriate dilution with water. Then, Cr(III) was determined by the difference. The limits of detection (LOD) were 0.39 and 0.45 μg l −1 for total Cr and Cr(VI), respectively, in the dissolved phase and 2.10 and 0.87 ng g −1 for total Cr and Cr(VI) in the suspended solids. The recoveries of total Cr and Cr(VI) in filtrated wastewater samples and filters were quantitative, ranged from 93 to 106%. The effect of time and temperature of sonication and suspended solids concentration on total Cr and Cr(VI) recovery was studied. No significant difference in recoveries was obtained for sonication temperatures between 30 and 70 °C. However, sonication time equal to or higher than 30 min and concentration of suspended solids equal to or less than 30 mg significantly improved Cr recovery. The ETAAS program for the determination of Cr(VI) in Amberlite/MIBK extract was carefully optimised in the absence of a chemical modifier to avoid memory effects. The developed analytical method was applied for the determination of chromium species in wastewater and suspended solids of a municipal and a lab-scale wastewater treatment plant.