Analysis of pesticides and their metabolites in food and water matrices continues to be an active research area closely related to food safety and environmental issues. This review discusses the most widely applied mass spectrometric (MS) approaches to pesticide residues analysis over the last few years. The main techniques for sample preparation remain solvent extraction and solid-phase extraction. The QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, Safe) approach is being increasingly used for the development of multi-class pesticide residues methods in various sample matrices. MS detectors-triple quadrupole (QqQ), ion-trap (IT), quadrupole linear ion trap (QqLIT), time-of-flight (TOF), and quadrupole time-of-flight (QqTOF)-have been established as powerful analytical tools sharing a primary role in the detection/quantification and/or identification/confirmation of pesticides and their metabolites. Recent developments in analytical instrumentation have enabled coupling of ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) and fast gas chromatography (GC) with MS detectors, and faster analysis for a greater number of pesticides. The newly developed \"ambient-ionization\" MS techniques (e.g., desorption electrospray ionization, DESI, and direct analysis in real time, DART®) hyphenated with high-resolution MS platforms without liquid chromatography separation, and sometimes with minimum pre-treatment, have shown potential for pesticide residue screening. The recently introduced Orbitrap mass spectrometers can provide high resolving power and mass accuracy, to tackle complex analytical problems involved in pesticide residue analysis. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mass Spec Rev.