A new multiple-layer matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS) sample-spotting technique is described. This fast and easy technique was evaluated with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) standards and optimized conditions for these synthetic polymers were obtained. PEGs up to 35 kDa were detectable with this approach and single monomer resolution was observed up to 20 kDa. The spotting was performed using a multiple-layer approach, which offers the capability of complex sample preparation without the requirement of premixing the different matrix, analyte and doping salt solutions. The technique reduces the time required for sample preparation and offers high flexibility with respect to sample composition and solvents utilized for the crystallization of the compounds. The technique is thus perfectly suited for applications in combinatorial material research. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.