The feasibility of experimental design in combination with subsequent response surface modelling was illustrated for the prediction and interpretation of tandem mass spectrometric (MS/MS) fragmentation data using a linear quadrupole ion trap under various experimental conditions. The instrumental parameters included were (i) the pressure of the collision gas, (ii) the collision energy, (iii) the fill time of the linear ion trap and (iv) the scan rate. The spectral intensity and width of five fragment ions of the doubly charged neuro-active peptide bombesin were used for evaluation, and all experiments were performed so as to resemble the results obtained from a liquid chromatographic peak. The reported results show how fairly simple mathematical tools can be utilized successfully to describe fundamental mechanisms associated with multiple collisional activation and collision-induced dissociation processes without an extensively controlled experimental environment. Most beneficial, using the suggested approach, is the ability to study interaction (synergistic) effects between various parameters. As was realized from the results, many interaction effects are indeed significant. For example, the effect on the signal intensity of different collision gas pressure settings is strongly dependent on the settings of the other parameters. The described approach can easily be adopted for optimization purposes of any MS/MS experiment. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.