A sample preparation method based on ultrasound assisted pseudo-digestion of Ph, Cu, Zn and Ni from street dust samples under ultrasonic effect has been described. Parameters influencing pseudo-digestion, such as sonication time, sample mass, particle size and solvent system were fully optimized. Final solutions obtained upon sonication were analyzed by atomic absorption spectrometry. The best conditions for metal pseudo-digestion were as follows: a 25 min sonication time, a 0.3 g sample mass (in 25 ml solvent), a particle size < 63 mu m and a mixture of concentrated HNO3-HClO4-HF (2: 1: 1, v/v/v). Analytical results for the four metals by ultrasound assisted pseudo-digestion, acid bomb and conventional wet digestion methods showed a good agreement, thus indicating the possibility of using mild conditions for sample preparation instead of intensive treatments inherent with the digestion methods. In addition, this method reduces the time required for all treatments (pseudo-digestion or digestion, heating to dryness, cooling and separation) with acid bomb and conventional wet digestion methods approximately from 9 to 1 h. The accuracy of the method was tested either by comparing obtained results with those of acid bomb and conventional wet digestion methods or by application on two standard reference materials. The average relative standard deviation of ultrasound assisted pseudo-digestion method varied between 0.9 and 1.8 % for N = 12, depending on the analyte. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.