The coupling of headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC x GC) was shown to be a powerful technique for the rapid sampling and analysis of volatile oils in complex herbal materials. When compared to one-dimensional (1-D) GC, the improved analytical capabilities of GC x GC in terms of increased detection sensitivity and separation power were demonstrated by using HS-SPME/GC x GC for the chemical profiling (fingerprinting) of essential/volatile oils contained in herbal materials of increasing analytical complexity. More than 20 marker compounds belonging to Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) can be observed within the 2-D contour plots of ginseng itself, a mixture of ginseng and another important herb (P. quinquefolius/Radix angelicae sinensis), as well as a mixture of ginseng and three other herbs (P. quinquefolius /R. angelicae sinensis/R. astragali/R. rehmanniae preparata). Such analytical capabilities should be important towards the authentication and quality control of herbal products, which are receiving increasing attention as alternative medicines worldwide. In particular, the presence of Panax in the herb formulation could be readily identified through its specific peak pattern in the 2-D GC x GC plot.