This article provides a brief account of glow discharge mass spectrometry (GDMS) for direct determination of trace elements in solid samples and for fast depth profiling in a great variety of innovative materials. It begins by describing the general principles of GDMS. This is followed by a discussion on the various components of a GDMS system as well as commercial GDMS instruments. A description of processes involved in specimen preparation and cleaning in GDMS is then presented. Various problems pertinent to multielemental calibrations in GDMS are discussed along with measures to overcome them. The article further provides information on the processes involved in the analytical setup of parameters in GDMS, covering the steps involved in the analysis of GDMS data. It ends with a section on the application and interpretation of GDMS in the metals industry.