Stand-off and extractive explosive detection methods for short distances are investigated using mid-infrared laser spectroscopy. A quantum cascade laser (QCL) system for TATP-detection by open path absorption spectroscopy in the gas phase was developed. In laboratory measurements a detection limit of 5 ppm*m was achieved. For explosives with lower vapor pressure an extractive hollow fiber based measurement system was investigated. By thermal desorption gaseous TATP or TNT is introduced into a heated fiber. The small sample volume and a fast gas exchange rate enable fast detection. TNT and TATP detection levels below 100 ng are feasible even in samples with a realistic contaminant background.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.