Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, collision induced-dissociation (MALDI-CID) has been used to obtain structural information for linear single oligomers of nylon-6. The effects of matrix and cationization agent in MALDI-CID analysis have been investigated. Fragmentation mechanisms are proposed for the series of ions that are observed in the MALDI-CID spectra of the hexamer, octamer and dodecamer. Fragmentation processes observed in the MALDI-CID spectra include cleavage of the end groups followed by dissociation of the m/z 113 unit. Cleavage of the oligamide chain occurs at the amide linkage, as well as at adjacent bonds. For the four matrices and three cationization agents investigated, 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid and sodium chloride showed the best performance for MALDI-CID analysis of the dodecamer. In addition, yields of the fragment ions in MALDI-CID spectra were found to be dependent on the chain length distribution. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.