Abstract A pulsed excimer-pumped dye laser was used to excite atomic flourescence in graphite tube electrothermal atomizer. A 60-Hz ac magnitude field was applied around the atomizer and parallel to the excitation beam, for Zeeman background correction. The correction system was found to degrade the detection limits for silver, cobalt, indium, manganese, lead, and thallium by a factor of between 1 and 10. An increase in magnetic field strength, or a decrease in laser linewidth, should improve the detection limits, but was not possible here. For copper, the application of Zeeman background correction was unsuccessfull because the instrumentation was unable to resolve the sigma components from the laser emission profile sufficiently during the background correction measurement. For elements that exhibit sufficient Zeeman splitting, the linear dynamic range was the same with or without background correction Zeeman background correction was used to correct for scatter, in the resonance flourescence determination of manganese in a zinc chloride matrix and in mouse brain tissue.