Metals and other contaminating elements found in low concentrations (10 ppm or less) in crude oil can alter the conversion of refinery feedstocks by poisoning catalysts. Organic matrices, such as crude oil, can cause complications when analyzing for trace elements by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). This study addresses some of the problems associated with direct analysis of P, Mo, Zn, Pb, Ni, Sn, Fe, Cr, V, Ca, Cu, Ti, Ba, As, Hg, Se, Sb, and Mg in crude oil using this technique. Specific areas addressed were solvent selectivity, spectral overlap, and the use of an internal standard to overcome sample inconsistencies such as viscosity. Kerosine was selected, instead of xylene or MIBK, as the best solvent based on a study of detection limits. A list of preferred wavelengths, included in the report, is based upon a scanning study that determined spectral overlap and sensitivity. The use of scandium as an internal standard overcomes delivery and nebulization problems associated with variations in viscosity and also drift in the instrument. Recovery experiments on crude oil samples containing known amounts of the elements of interest show greater than 90% recovery on 14 of the 18 elements listed.