An ion trap/time-of-flight (IT/TOF) mass spectrometer was developed and applied to infrared multiphoton dissociation (IRMPD) studies of ions generated by electrospray ionization. A pulsed 10.6-µm laser beam from a CO2 laser was used for excitation of trapped ions. Results from IRMPD of peptide ions show that this method provides useful information related to the amino acid sequence of analyzed peptides. Comparative studies show that IRMPD spectra are similar to those obtained using a 266-nm UV laser beam for excitation. However, in contrast to multiple-pulse excitation required at 266 nm, the energy of a single laser pulse in IRMPD is sufficient to induce dissociation of peptide ions. The laser power is practically an exclusive parameter that must be controlled in order to obtain IRMPD spectra that will provide the optimal structural information. It is further demonstrated that the IRMPD IT/TOF technique has the potential to probe the structural features of larger ions that cannot be readily fragmented by collision-induced dissociation (CID). A multiply charged ion of equine cytochrome c is successfully fragmented in a single laser pulse experiment. The IRMPD IT/TOF technique is also shown to be a promising tool for studying dissociation kinetics of peptide and protein ions. Unlike other methods that usually monitor the dissociation ion kinetics in a dissociation time frame of greater than milliseconds, the IT/TOF can promptly detect all product ions generated by the dissociation process, and thus monitor the dissociation process of peptides and proteins in a sub-millisecond time frame. This instrument allows us to determine the dissociation rates of cytochrome c ions using high-energy photoexcitation. It is found that the charge state of the protein ion has a significant effect on dissociation kinetics, which is consistent with that found under low-energy excitation experiments. It is shown that the increase in energy of a laser pulse from 130 to 180 mJ changes the dissociation rate constant for the +12 ion from k = 2.4 × 103 s−1 to k = 7.3 × 104 s−1. The +8 ion following excitation at 130 mJ dissociates slower with a rate constant of k = 2.6 × 102 s−1. The rate difference observed is attributed to conformational differences among the ions with different charge states. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.