Central to the tandem mass spectrometry experiment is the process that gives rise to product ions, i.e. the reaction intermediate to stages of mass analysis. Changes in mass or charge of the parent ion (or both) are generally readily detected by all forms of tandem mass spectrometry. Charge changing, or charge permutation, reactions have a long history in mass spectrometry. However, with the advent of new ionization methods, such as electrospray ionization, and the expansion of tandem mass spectrometry instrumentation to include ion trapping instruments, the past decade has seen a major increase in the types of charge permutation reactions that can be studied. Most charge permutation reactions involve electrons or protons as the charge mediating agents. This report, therefore, provides an overview of charge permutation reactions involving protons or electrons. Particular emphasis is placed on processes that involve interactions of precursor ions with gaseous neutral species, electrons or oppositely charged ions. Charge permutation reactions involving electron gain/loss are described first according to a rough order of the energy required for the reaction beginning with the most endoergic reactions and ending with the most exoergic reactions. An analogous approach is then taken with charge permutation reactions involving proton gain/loss. Important charge permutation reactions discussed herein, among others, include those referred to as charge inversion, charge stripping, electron capture dissociation, collision-induced ionization and charge separation. These reaction types, and others described herein, are the subjects of active research and are also finding use in many current areas of application. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.