Control of workplace exposure to beryllium is a growing issue in the United States and other nations. As the health risks associated with low-level exposure to beryllium are better understood, the need increases for improved analytical techniques both in the laboratory and in the field. These techniques also require a greater degree of standardization to permit reliable comparison of data obtained from different locations and at different times. Analysis of low-level beryllium samples, in the form of air filters or surface wipes, is frequently required for workplace monitoring or to provide data to support decision-making on implementation of exposure controls. In the United States and the United Kingdom, the current permissible exposure level is 2 microg m(-3) (air) and the United States Department of Energy has implemented an action level of 0.2 microg m(-3) (air) and 0.2 microg/100 cm(2) (surface). These low-level samples present a number of analytical challenges, including (1) a lack of suitable standard reference materials, (2) unknown robustness of sample preparation techniques, (3) interferences during analysis, (4) sensitivity (sufficiently low detection limits), (5) specificity (beryllium speciation) and (6) data comparability among laboratories. Additionally, there is a need for portable, real-time (or near real-time) equipment for beryllium air monitoring and surface wipe analysis that is both laboratory-validated and field-validated in a manner that would be accepted by national and/or international standards organizations. This paper provides a review of the current analytical requirements for trace-level beryllium analysis for worker protection and also addresses issues that may change those requirements. The current analytical state of the art and relevant challenges facing the analytical community will be presented, followed by suggested criteria for real-time monitoring equipment. Recognizing and addressing these challenges will present opportunities for laboratories, research and development organizations, instrument manufacturers and others.