In this study, a new system for analysis using a dual comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography/targeted multidimensional gas chromatography (switchable CC x GC/targeted MDGC) analysis was developed. The configuration of this system not only permits the independent operation of GC, CC x CC and targeted MDGC analyses in separate analyses, but also allows the mode to be switched from CC x GC to targeted MDGC any number of times through a single analysis. By incorporating a Deans switch microfluidics transfer module prior to a cryotrapping device, the flow stream from the first dimension column can be directed to either one of two second dimension columns in a classical heart-cutting operation. Both second columns pass through the cryotrap to allow solute bands to be focused and then rapidly remobilized to the respective second columns. A short second column enables CC x CC operation, whilst a longer column is used for targeted MDGC. Validation of the system was performed using a standard mixture of compounds relevant to essential oil analysis, and then using compounds present at different abundances in lavender essential oil. Reproducibility of retention times and peak area responses demonstrated that there was negligible variation in the system over the course of multiple heart-cuts, and proved the reliable operation of the system. An application of the system to lavender oil, as a more complex sample, was carried out to affirm system feasibility, and demonstrate the ability of the system to target multiple components in the oil. The system was proposed to be useful for study of aroma-impact compounds where CC x CC can be incorporated with MDGC to permit precise identification of aroma-active compounds, where heart-cut multidimensional GC-olfactometry detection (MDGC-O) is a more appropriate technology for odour assessment. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.