It has been a long term goal of many researchers to use instrumental means to replace some sensory functions. The use of sensory panels for quality control purposes presents many problems which may be minimized through the use of supplementary instrumental techniques. Over the years, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry have found limited application for this purpose. Recently an instrument generically called an "electronic nose" has been commercialized. This paper will present a brief overview of gas chromatographic and mass spectral techniques used to monitor flavor quality in foods but focus on the new electronic nose instruments.