Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue specimens represent a valuable and abundant resource of pathologic material for various biomedical studies. In the present study, we report the application of high-resolution inductively coupled mass-spectrometry (ICP-MS) for quantification of Fe, Zn, Se and Cd in FFPE prostate tissue. These elements have a possible role in the development of prostate diseases: while Zn and Se are needed for a healthy prostate, Cd shows multiple toxic and carcinogenic effects. Excessive accumulation of Fe induces the production of highly reactive hydroxyl radical species, which may play a role in cancer etiopathogenesis. To assess whether the levels of these metals in the FFPE prostate tissue represent their original content, we compared their levels with those in the fresh tissue (on dry weight basis) in samples obtained from 15 patients. We found that in FFPE tissue, the recoveries of Se, Fe, Cd and Zn were progressively decreased, 97??11% (r=0.88), 82??22% (r=0.86), 59??23% (r=0.69) and 24??11% (r=0.38), respectively. Thus, the use of correction factors, determined as k=0.16 for Se, k=0.20 for Fe, k=0.27 for Cd and k=0.67 for Zn, is required to estimate the retrospective levels of these elements in the parental non-processed fresh (wet) prostate tissue. The technique used in this study enables the analysis of archival FFPE prostate tissue for the concentrations of Fe, Zn, Se and Cd to study association between the levels of these metals and prostate disease. ?? 2008.