The spectrofluorimetric determination of terbium(III) as its ternary complex with EDTA and Tiron was studied further with regard to composition of the complex and the procedure was optimized by a simplex method. The results suggest a 1:1 molar ratio of terbium to Tiron for the ternary complex. The optimization study indicated that the three chosen variables (pH, and EDTA and Tiron concentration) are not interactive. The method was converted for use in a segmented-flow system with basic Technicon units and a spectrophotofluorimeter as detector. This procedure is satisfactory for the determination of terbium(III) in the range 0.03–0.24 μg ml−1 at a sampling rate of 30 h−1. Results were satisfactory for the determination of terbium in lanthanide oxides, mixed oxides, the mineral bastnasite and a green phosphor (Gd0.96 Ce0.02 Tb0.02 F3).