To utilize fully modern MALDI-TOF and TOF/TOF mass spectrometers with mass resolution exceeding 10 000 and 2 ppm precision of flight time measurements for high mass accuracy, the model of ion motion used in the mass calibration equation must be expanded. The standard three-term equation providing up to 5–10 ppm (rms) mass accuracy with internal standards was modified with an additional term accounting for the finite rise time of the high-voltage extraction pulse. This new four-term calibration equation minimizes the effect of systematic error resulting from the fact that ion velocities are mass dependent due to the rise time of the extraction pulse. Applying this new calibration equation to a mass spectrum obtained in an axial MALDI-TOF MS containing 70 peaks (sodiated PEG), each with a signal-to-noise ratio greater than 100, a mass accuracy of 1.6 ppm (rms) was obtained over the mass range 1.0–4.0 kDa compared with 3.6 ppm (rms) with the standard three-term equation. The physical basis of the effects of the finite extraction pulse rise time on mass calibration is examined for axial MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers, as well as for orthogonal acceleration TOF mass spectrometers. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.