A comprehensive study and comparison is underway using biological detectors and instrumental methods for the rapid detection of ignitable liquid residues (ILR) and high explosives. Headspace solid phase microextraction (SPME) has been demonstrated to be an effective sampling method helping to identify active odor signature chemicals used by detector dogs to locate forensic specimens as well as a rapid pre-concentration technique prior to instrumental detection. Common ignitable liquids and common military and industrial explosives have been studied including trinitrotoluene, tetryl, RDX, HMX, EGDN, PETN and nitroglycerine. This study focuses on identifying volatile odor signature chemicals present, which can be used to enhance the level and reliability of detection of ILR and explosives by canines and instrumental methods. While most instrumental methods currently in use focus on particles and on parent organic compounds, which are often involatile, characteristic volatile organics are generally also present and can be exploited to enhance detection particularly for well-concealed devices. Specific examples include the volatile odor chemicals 2-ethyl-1-hexanol and cyclohexanone, which are readily available in the headspace of the high explosive composition C-4; whereas, the active chemical cyclo-1,3,5-trimethylene-2,4,6-trinitramine (RDX) is not. The analysis and identification of these headspace 'fingerprint' organics is followed by double-blind dog trials of the individual components using certified teams in an attempt to isolate and understand the target compounds to which dogs are sensitive. Studies to compare commonly used training aids with the actual target explosive have also been undertaken to determine their suitability and effectiveness. The optimization of solid phase microextraction (SPME) combined with ion trap mobility spectrometry (ITMS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (GC/MSn) is detailed including interface development and comparisons of limits of detection. These instrumental methods are being optimized in order to detect the same target odor chemicals used by detector dogs to reliably locate explosives and ignitable liquids.