A rapid, specific and highly sensitive method is described for the determination of several commonly used herbicides and their degradation products in surface and ground waters by using gas chromatography/ion-trap mass spectrometry. The compounds included atrazine, and its degradation products desethylatrazine and desisopropylatrazine; Simazine; Cyanazine; Metolachlor; and alachlor and its degradation products, 2-chloro-2', 6'-diethylacetanilide, 2-hydroxy-2', 6'-diethylacetanilide and 2,6-diethylaniline. The method was applied to surface-water samples collected from 16 different stations along the lower Mississippi River and its major tributaries, and ground-water samples beneath a cornfield in central Nebraska. Average recovery of a surrogate herbicide, terbuthylazine, was greater than 99%. Recoveries of the compounds of interest from river water spiked at environmental levels are also presented. Full-scan mass spectra of these compounds were obtained on 1 ng or less of analyte. Data were collected in the full-scan acquisition mode. Quantitation was based on a single characteristic ion for each compound. The detection limit was 60 pg with a signal-to-noise ratio of greater than 10:1.