Efforts to develop sensor and control system technology to monitor air quality for life support have resulted in the development and preliminary testing of a concept based on expert systems and ion trap mass spectrometry (ITMS). An ITMS instrument provides the capability to identify and quantitate a large number of suspected contaminants at trace levels through the use of a variety of multidimensional experiments. An expert system provides specialized knowledge for control, analysis, and decision making. The system is intended for real-time, on-line, autonomous monitoring of air quality. The key characteristics of the system, performance data and analytical capabilities of the ITMS instrument, the design and operation of the expert system, and results from preliminary testing of the system for trace contaminant monitoring are described.