Mass spectrometric behaviour of mono- and di-carboxylated polyethylene glycols (PEGCs and CPEGCs) and carboxylated octylphenol ethoxylates (OPECs) are discussed. The tendency for ionisation (deprotonation, protonation and cationisation by alkali metal cations) of carboxylated PEGs was compared with that of non-carboxylated correspondents by using both secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) and electrospray ionisation (ESI). The fragmentation of the PEGCs and CPEGCs is discussed and also compared with their neutral correspondents, PEGs. The B/E mass spectra were recorded, using secondary ion mass spectrometry as a method for generation, for deprotonated and protonated molecules and molecules cationised by alkali metal cations. The fragmentation behaviour of PEGs is found to be different from that of CPEGCs, The presence of carboxylic groups may be confirmed not only by the determination of molecular weights of the ethoxylates studied, but also on the basis of the fragment ions formed. The metastable decomposition of the [OPEC-H](-) ions proceed through the cleavage of the bond between the octylphenol moiety and the ethoxylene chain leading to the octylphenoxy anions. It permits determination of the mass of the hydrophobic moiety of the studied carboxylated alkylphenol ethoxylate. ESI mass spectra recorded in the negative ion mode were found to be more suitable for the determination of the average molecular weight of carboxylated ethoxylates than SI mass spectra.