Three digestion procedures have been tested on lichen samples for application in the determination of major, minor and trace elements (Al, Ca, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Ph, V and Zn) in lichen samples collected in Aegean Region of Turkey by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometer (ICP-AES). The acid mixture of concentrated HNO3, H2O2 and HF were used. The instrument was optimized using lichen matrix considering RF power, nebulizer pressure, auxiliary flow rate and Pump rate. The accuracy of the overall analyses was first estimated by analysis of two certified reference materials. Good agreement between measured and reference values were found for almost all elements. As the second way of determining the accuracy, results obtained from independent analytical techniques (ICP-AES and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA)) were compared for all elements by analyzing real samples. Correlation coefficients of two techniques for the elements ranged between 0.70 (Mg) and 0.96 (Fe). Among the three digestion systems, namely microwave, open vessel and acid bomb, microwave digestion system gave the best recovery results. The method detection limit (MDL) was computed Using reagent blanks of microwave digestion system since it provides cleaner sample preparation. Detection limit is adequate for all elements to determine the elements in lichen samples. The precision was assessed from the replicate analyses of reagent blanks of microwave digestion system and was found to be less than 1.5% relative standard deviation (R.S.D.). (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.