Accurate and precise determinations of tin in geological materials are needed for fundamental studies of tin geochemistry, and for tin prospecting purposes. Achieving the required accuracy is difficult because of the different matrices in which Sn can occur (i.e. sulfides, silicates and cassiterite), and because of the variability of literature values for Sn concentrations in geochemical reference materials. We have evaluated three methods for the analysis of samples for Sn concentration: graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (HGA-AAS) following iodide extraction, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), and energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometry. Two of these methods (HGA-AAS and ICP-OES) required sample decomposition either by acid digestion or fusion, while the third (EDXRF) was performed directly on the powdered sample. Analytical details of all three methods, their potential errors, and the steps necessary to correct these errors were investigated. Results showed that similar accuracy was achieved from all methods for unmineralized samples, which contain no known Sn-bearing phase. For mineralized samples, which contain Sn-bearing minerals, either cassiterite or stannous sulfides, only EDXRF and fusion ICP-OES methods provided acceptable accuracy. This summary of our study provides information which helps to assure correct interpretation of data bases for underlying geochemical processes, regardless of method of data collection and its inherent limitations. ?? 1989.