A rapid, sensitive, and cost-effective method was developed for the determination of trace mercury in water samples by on-line coupling of flow injection (FI) sorption preconcentration with oxidative elution to cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CV-AFS). race Hg(II) in aqueous solution was preconcentrated by on-line formation of mercury diethyldithiocarbamate complex (Hg-DDTC) and adsorption of the resulting neutral complex on the inner walls of a PTFE knotted reactor (KR). A mixture of 16% (v/v) HCl and 10% (v/v) H2O2 was used as the eluent to remove the adsorbed Hg-DDTC from the KR, then convert on-line the Hg-DDTC into Hg(II) prior to its reduction to elemental mercury by KBH4 for subsequent on-line CV-AFS detection. The tolerable concentrations of Cd(II) As(Ill) Se(IV) Fe(III), Co(II), Ni(II), and Cu(II) and Cu(II) for the determination of 0.1 mug L-I Hg(II) were 0.1, 10, 0.1, 0.1, 0.7, 1, 0.3, and 0.2 mg L-1, respectively. With a sample loading flow rate of 3.1 mL, min(-1) for a 60-s preconcentration, a detection limit (3sigma) of 4.4 ng L-I was achieved at a sample throughput of 36 samples h(-1). The precision (RSD, n = 11) was 1.7% at the 1 0, 1-mug L-1 Hg (11) level. The method was successfully applied to the determination of mercury in a certified reference material, GBW(E) 080392, and a number of local natural water samples.