An inductively coupled Ar plasma (ICP), generated in a lowflow torch, was investigated by the simplex optimization technique for simultaneous, multielement, atomic emission spectrometry (AES). The variables studied included forward power, observation height, gas flow (outer, intermediate, and nebulizer carrier) and sample uptake rate. When the ICP was operated at 720-W forward power with a total gas flow of 5 L/min, the signal-to-background ratios (S/B) of spectral lines from 20 elements were either comparable or inferior, by a factor ranging from 1.5 to 2, to the results obtained from a conventional Ar ICP. Matrix effect studies on the Ca-PO4 system revealed that the plasma generated in the low-flow torch was as free of vaporizatton-atomizatton interferences as the conventional ICP, but easily ionizable elements produced a greater level of suppression or enhancement effects which could be reduced at higher forward powers. Electron number densities, as determined via the series until line merging technique, were tower ht the plasma sustained in the low-flow torch as compared with the conventional ICP. ?? 1984 American Chemical Society.