An automated surface-sampling technique called liquid extraction surface analysis (LESA), coupled with infusion nano-electrospray high-resolution mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS), is described and applied to the qualitative determination of surface chemical residues resulting from the artificial spraying of selected fresh fruits and vegetables with representative pesticides. Each of the targeted pesticides was readily detected with both high-resolution and full-scan collision-induced dissociation (CID) mass spectra. In the case of simazine and sevin, a mass resolution of 100 000 was insufficient to distinguish the isobaric protonated molecules for these compounds. When the surface of a spinach leaf was analyzed by LESA, trace levels of diazinon were readily detected on the spinach purchased directly from a supermarket before they were sprayed with the five-pesticide mixture. A 30 s rinse under hot running tap water appeared to quantitatively remove all remaining residues of this pesticide. Diazinon was readily detected by LESA analysis on the skin of the artificially sprayed spinach. Finally, incurred pyrimethanil at a level of 169 ppb in a batch slurry of homogenized apples was analyzed by LESA and this pesticide was readily detected by both high-resolution mass spectrometry and full-scan CID mass spectrometry, thus showing that pesticides may also be detected in whole fruit homogenized samples. This report shows that representative pesticides on fruit and vegetable surfaces present at levels 20-fold below generally allowed EPA tolerance levels are readily detected and confirmed by the title technologies making LESA-MS as interesting screening method for food safety purposes. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.