A new technique for fragmentation of cations and anions of peptides stored in ion traps including radiofrequency devices is described. The technique involves irradiation of peptide ions by a beam of particles generated by a fast atom bombardment (FAB) gun. This irradiation leads to fragmentation of N-C α backbone bonds (c- and z-fragments) and S-S bonds for cations and Cα-C backbone bonds (a- and x-fragments) for anions of peptides. The fragmentation patterns observed are hypothesized to be due to the interaction of peptide ions with metastable, electronically excited species generated by the FAB gun. Interaction of a metastable atom A* with a peptide n-cation Mn+ leads to the electron transfer from the metastable atom to the polycation through the formation of an ion-pair collision complex A+. ⋯ M(n-1)+. and subsequent fragmentation of the peptide cation. Thus, for polycations, this metastable-induced dissociation of ions (MIDI) is similar to the phenomenon of electron capture dissociation (ECD). Interaction of A* with an anion leads to the deexcitation of the metastable species and detachment of an electron from the anion. This in turn leads to backbone fragmentation similar to that in electron detachment dissociation (EDD). The MIDI technique is robust and efficient, and it is applicable to peptides in as low charge states as 2+ or 2-.