An improved graphite furnace atomic-absorption method has been developed for the determination of Sc, Y and the rare-earth elements in silicate rocks and related materials. The method, which involves the separation of the lanthanides by ion-exchange followed by their determination by electrothermal atomization, with use of an automatic sampling device, is more rapid than a previous method based on separation by co-precipitation with calcium oxalate and hydrous ferric oxide followed by normal injection of the solution into the furnace. Greater sensitivity (~ 10-40-fold) for La, Ce, Pr, Gd, Tb and Lu is also achieved by using a tantalum foil-lined graphite furnace instead of a pyrolytically-coated furnace. Results obtained for five international reference rock samples, NIM-G, SCo-1, MAG-1, SDC-1 and BHVO-1, are compared with those obtained previously by the oxalate-hydrous oxide co-precipitation method and with other published values. Results are given for four new Canadian iron-formation reference materials, FeR-1 to FeR-4.