This study describes the application of benchtop and portable Raman spectroscopy for the in situ detection of cocaine hydrochloride in clothing impregnated with the drug. Raman spectra were obtained from a set of undyed natural and synthetic fibres and dyed textiles impregnated with the drug. The spectra were collected using three Raman spectrometers: one benchtop dispersive spectrometer coupled to a fibre-optic probe and two portable spectrometers. Despite the presence of some spectral bands arising from the natural and synthetic polymer and dyed textiles, the drug could be identified by its characteristic Raman bands. High-quality spectra of the drug could be acquired in situ within seconds and without any sample preparation or alteration of the evidential material. A field-portable Raman spectrometer is a reliable technique that can be used by emergency response teams to rapidly identify unknown samples. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.