This paper describes a rapid and solvent-free method, microwave-assisted headspace solid-phase microextraction (MA-HS-SPME), for the extraction of six commonly used synthetic polycyclic musks: galaxolide (HHCB), tonalide (AHTN), celestolide (ADBI), traseolide (ATII), cashmeran (DPMI) and phantolide (AHMI) from water samples prior to their determination using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The effects of various extraction parameters for the quantitative extraction of these analytes by MA-HS-SPME were systematically investigated and optimized. The analytes in a 20-mL water sample (in a 40-mL sample-vial containing 4g of NaCl) were efficiently extracted by a polydimethylsiloxane-divinylbenzene (PDMS-DVB) fiber placed in the headspace when the system was microwave irradiated at 180W for less than 4 min. The limits of detection (LODs) ranged from 0.05 to 0.1 ng/L, and the limits of quantification (LOQs) were less than 0.2 ng/L A preliminary analysis of wastewater samples revealed that HHCB and AHTN were the two most commonly detected synthetic polycyclic musks; using a standard addition method, their concentration were determined to range from 1.2 to 37.3 ng/L with relative standard deviation (RSD) ranging from 2 to 6%. The results obtained using this approach are better than those from the conventional oil-bath HS-SPME. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.