An adsorption-elution and atomic absorption spectrophotometric method using Amberlite XAD-16 is proposed for the preconcentration and determination of Cu, Ni and Zn. Optimum conditions for the preconcentration were investigated. Recoveries of the elements were found to be 82.4 +/- 0.3%, 95 +/- 3% and 71 +/- 1% for Cu, Zn and Ni, respectively, at 95% confidence level. The recoveries were increased to about 99% for Cu and Ni by complexing with 1-(2-pyridylazo)-2-naphthol (PAN). The effect of Na and K on the preconcentration of trace metals has also been investigated. The method was applied to a tap water.