Techniques have been developed for ion microprobe Pb-isotope dating of minerals at a lateral scale < 5 mu m using the Cameca NanoSIMS 50. Probe spots 3-5 mu m in diameter comprising 16 keV O-16(-) ions were utilized in the analyses by magnetic peak-switching of Pb-204(+), Pb-206(+), Pb-207(+), and Pb-208(+) in NIST SRM 981 and 982 Pb metals, and similar to 1 Ga uraninite, xenotime, and zirconolite reference materials. The Pb+ mass resolution (M/Delta M at 1% peak height) was adjusted to similar to 5000 to ensure the separation of molecular isobars. Under such conditions, the sensitivity for Pb+ in zircon and zirconolite was 3.0-3.5 and similar to 10 cps/ppm/nA O-16(-), respectively, about one-third the sensitivity obtained with large-geometry ion probes. Instrumental mass fractionation for Pb+ was undetectable for SRM Pb metals and zirconolite, but values of up to 1.2% per atomic mass unit (enhancement of lighter isotopes) were recorded for xenotime and uraninite. As a demonstration of the technique, small zirconolite grains from a Cambrian mafic sill were analyzed in situ using a 3 mu m diameter probe. A mean Pb-207*/Pb-206* age of 504 +/- 18 Ma was determined, and is considered an accurate measure of the crystallization age. Small-spot geochronology with the NanoSIMS at the present time is practical mainly for high-U mineral chronometers. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.