Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography in tandem with flame ionization detection (GC x GC-FID) was used for the qualitative fingerprint characterisation of four different types of powdered incense headspace (H/S), and incense smoke. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the incense powder and smoke were extracted by using solid phase microextraction (SPME) with a polydimethylsiloxane/divinylbenzene (PDMS/DVB) 65 mu m fiber. Low-polarity/polar, and polar/non-polar phase combinations were tested to contrast the GC x GC separation of components in these two column sets. A total of 324 compounds were tentatively identified, with more than 100 compounds in incense powders and more than 200 compounds in the incense smoke, by using GC coupled to quadrupole mass spectrometric detection. Identification required at least 90 match with the NIST library; otherwise they were considered as unidentified. The smoke stream comprised compounds originating from the incense powder, and combustion products such as PAH, N-heterocyclics, and furans. However, GC x GC was able to separate many more volatile compounds (possibly hundreds more) present in the complex smoke samples, many of which cannot be separated by conventional ID-GC; this is a direct consequence of the high-resolution power of GC x GC. GC x GC fingerprint comparison of powder H/S with smoke allows facile subtraction of the former from the latter to assist identification of compounds generated from burning incense.