The simultaneous determination of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn in lead and zinc concentrates by fundamental, second-harmonic and linear-sweep a.c. and pulse polarographic methods is described. Calibration curves are linear over wide concentration ranges, so that both major and minor trace constituents can be determined in the same experiment; thus the polarographic method is highly competitive with atomic absorption spectrometry (a.a.s.). Conventional a.c. polarography and a.a.s. were compared in the first instance with conservative instrumentation. More sophisticated polarographic methods were then utilized; with the phase-selective linear sweep a.c. (fundamental- and second-harmonic) methods the four elements were determined simultaneously from voltammograms obtained in less than 20 s down to the 10-6-10-7 M concentration range.