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There is at present an urgent need for trace detection of high explosives, with applications to screening of people, packages, luggage, and vehicles. A great concern, because of recent terrorist activities, is for the development of methods that might allow detection and identification of explosives at a stand off distance. Nearly every analytical chemical method has been or is being applied to this problem. This review outlines the properties of explosives that might be utilized in detection schemes, discusses sampling issues, presents recent method developments with particular attention to detection limits, speed of analysis, and portability, and looks towards future developments.