Although the use of once widely applied selective herbicide, 4,6-dinitro-o-cresol (DNOC), was cancelled by US-EPA in 1987, it is still found in soil and water due to its slow degradation in the environment. Since solid phase extraction-spectrophotometry combinations are much simpler and cheaper than chromatography/MS based methods and most routine laboratories lack such sophisticated instrumentation, it is desirable to establish novel sensitive, well-established, and field-applicable spectrophotometric methods for the rapid assay of DNOC in water and soil. For this purpose, two distinct spectrophotometric methods utilizing the periodate and copper(II)-neocuproine (Nc) reagents have been developed following Zn/HCl reduction of the pesticide in a microwave oven for 15 s, and validated for DNOC determination at mg L-1 level. The LOD values were 1.6 and 0.2 mg L-1 for periodate and Cu(II)-Nc methods, respectively. Statistical comparison of the developed methods was made with the aid of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipped with a C-18 (5 mu m), 250 mm x 4.6 mm ID reversed phase column in conjunction with a UV (264 nm) detector, and a methanol (HPLC grade) +0.1% glacial acetic acid mixture mobile phase. Both spectrophotometric methods were directly applicable to soil since they were not interfered with common soil cations and anions, together with some pesticides. These methods were applied to real samples such as synthetically contaminated montmorillonite and lemon juice, and overall recovery efficiencies at the order of 95% or greater were achieved in the devised adsorption/elution procedures. An 8-hydroxyquinoline (oxine)-impregnated XAD copolymer resin stabilized with Fe(III) salt was used to preconcentrate, DNOC at a concentration factor of 20 from lemon juice contaminated with 1 mg L-1 I DNOC, and the analyte retained at pH 2.5 was eluted with 0.025 M methanolic NaOH. Both the devised spectrophotometric methods and the proposed preconcentration column with optimized sorption and desorption conditions are novel for DNOC assay in the natural environment. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.