A procedure for partial digestion of bovine tissue is proposed using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) microvessels inside a baby-bottle sterilizer under microwave radiation for multi-element determination by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP OES). Samples were directly weighed in laboratory-made polytetrafluoroethylene vessels. Nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide were added to the uncovered vessels, which were positioned inside the baby-bottle sterilizer, containing 500 mL of water. The hydrogen peroxide volume was fixed at 100 mu L The system was placed in a domestic microwave oven and partial digestion was carried out for the determination of Ca, Cu, Fe. Mg, Mn and Zn by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry. The single-vessel approach was used in the entire procedure, to minimize contamination in trace analysis. Better recoveries and lower residual carbon content (RCC) levels were obtained under the conditions established through a 2(4-1) fractional factorial design: 650 W microwave power, 7 min digestion time, 50 mu L nitric acid and 50 mg sample mass. The digestion efficiency was ascertained according to the residual carbon content determined by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry. The accuracy of the proposed procedure was checked against two certified reference materials. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.