We applied laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) as a new and precise technique for measuring trace elements in benthic foraminifera (Hoeglundina elegans). With this technique, trace element concentrations were accurately measured without the elaborate cleaning required in standard methods. Contaminated coatings are easily excluded during spatially resolved analysis. Application of this new technique allowed us to calibrate the trace elements incorporated in single tests of living (when sampled) benthic foraminifera to ambient seawater temperature (Mg and Sr) and redox conditions (Mn) for the first time. Incorporation of Ba showed a more complex pattern that cannot be explained by a direct correlation to water column concentration.