Construction and evaluation of an external configuration trap-and-release membrane introduction system for mass spectrometry is described. This novel interface allows independent control of the temperature of the membrane and eliminates the dependence of membrane heating efficiency on its position in the ion source. The external trap-and-release MIMS configuration is successfully applied to detection of inorganic chloramines and chlorobenzenes. The method is shown to give temporal resolution of volatile vs. semi-volatile compounds, which increases its sensitivity for semi-volatiles in the presence of volatiles and provides an additional selectivity parameter. Further selectivity is provided by tandem mass spectrometry. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.