Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) has been used to image the distribution of the pesticide nicosulfuron (2-[[(4,6-dimethoxypyrimidin-2-yl)aminocarbonyl]aminosulfonyl]-N,N-dimethyl-3-pyridinecarboxamide) in plant tissue using direct tissue imaging following root and foliar uptake. Sunflower plants inoculated with nicosulfuron were horizontally sectioned at varying distances along the stem in order to asses the extent of translocation; uptake via the leaves following foliar application to the leaves and uptake via the roots from a hydroponics system were compared. An improved sample preparation methodology, encasing samples in ice, allowed sections from along the whole of the plant stem from the root bundle to the growing tip to be taken. Images of fragment ions and alkali metal adducts have been generated that show the distribution of the parent compound and a phase 1 metabolite in the plant. Positive and negative controls have been included in the images to confirm ion origin and prevent false-positive results which could originate from endogenous compounds present within the plant tissue. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.