Photoelectron resonance capture ionization (PERCI) is a soft and sensitive ionization method, based on the attachment of low-energy (<1 eV) photoelectrons to organic analyte molecules. PERCI has been developed in our laboratory for the real-time analysis of organic particles by mass spectrometry, and is employed here to monitor the heterogeneous reaction of ozone with oleic acid. Simplified identification of the reaction products is possible as a result of the soft nature of PERCI, giving predominantly the [MH]− ions. The major particle-phase products are identified as: 1-nonanal, nonanoic acid, 9-oxononanoic acid, and azelaic acid, consistent with proposed mechanisms. New insight into this well-studied heterogeneous reaction is gained as additional minor particle-phase products, consistent with the Criegee mechanism, are readily detected. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.