The surface chemical characterisation of sub-200 nm poly(DL-lactide co-glycolide) nanospheres has been carried out using the complementary analytical techniques of static secondary ion mass spectrometry (SSIMS) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The nanospheres, which are of interest for site-specific drug delivery, were prepared using an emulsification-solvent evaporation technique with poly(vinyl alcohol), Poloxamer 407 and Poloxamine 908 respectively as stabilisers. The presence of surfactant molecules on the surface of cleaned biodegradable colloids was confirmed and identified on a qualitative molecular level (SSIMS) and from a quantitative elemental and functional group analysis (XPS) perspective. SSIMS and XPS data were also used in combination with electron microscopy to monitor the effectiveness of cleaning procedures in removing poorly bound surfactant molecules from the surface of nanospheres. The findings are discussed with respect to the development of nanoparticle delivery systems, particularly the composition of the surface for extending blood circulation times and achieving site-specific deposition.