Laser-enhanced ionization was investigated as a detection technique for trace elemental analysis of solid samples by laser ablation. Laser ablation of aluminum samples was performed in an ablation cell, and the ablated material was carried by a flow of gas to a miniature LEI flame where Pb was detected. This decoupling of ablation cell and detector allowed the independent optimization of vaporization and detection processes. We have investigated the different excitation schemes for Pb and uncovered five new LEI-active transitions in the visible range. We have demonstrated that the use of an argon-oxygen/acetylene flame sheathed with argon resulted in the elimination of background interference from the two-photon ionization of nitric oxide. We have shown that the use of helium as a carrier gas results in a higher ablation yield and lower pulse-to-pulse variations in LEI signal and in better analytical figures of merit. We have characterized the performance of the technique in terms of detection limits and dynamic range, and we have obtained a detection limit of 60 ng/g for the determination of Pb in high purity aluminum.