Recent literature on trace elements in coal is reviewed. Developments in quantitative analysis techniques are reported. Problems associated with sample preparation, repeatability and reproducibility, and representativeness of samples are discussed. The modes of occurrence and methods of determining them are examined followed by an account of the trace element mineralogy in coal. The potential of coal cleaning as a way of reducing the trace element content is assessed. Finally, the partitioning of trace elements in combustion, especially into the finest size fractions of the ash, is considered. 199 refs., 20 figs., 22 tabs.