A general overview of the fundamental operating principles of inductively coupled plasma (ICP) mass spectrometry (MS) is presented in this work. This includes a description of the basic components of an ICP mass spectrometer: the plasma source, sample introduction system, sampling interface, mass analyzer, and detector. The features and limitations of various commercially available mass analyzers are contrasted in terms of achievable mass resolving power, selectivity, etc. Extension of the capabilities of ICP-MS through hyphenation to various techniques and sample introduction systems are also discussed. For instance, coupling liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, or capillary electrophoresis to ICP-MS allows the application of ICP-MS to speciation analysis, while flow injection can be used for discrete sample injection, online matrix separation and analyte preconcentration. Alternative sample introduction systems, such as electrothermal vaporization, vapor generation, and laser ablation, are also presented, as they provide for direct solid introduction and/or feature essentially 100% analyte introduction efficiency into the ICP. Common spectroscopic and nonspectroscopic interferences (or matrix effects) encountered in routine analysis are examined, along with ways to alleviate them. The prerequisites and features of various calibration strategies, i.e., external calibration, internal standardization, standard addition, and isotope dilution, are contrasted, along with their efficiency at compensating for matrix effects and drift. Finally, a selection of representative examples from the literature are used to comprehensively show the numerous applications of ICP-MS, such as in the analysis of environmental, geological, biological, and pharmaceutical samples.