The apparent mass resolution of oligonucleotides in time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometers has been examined. In a reflectron TOF instrument, where the isotopic profile can be completely resolved, the apparent resolution matches the instrument's resolving power. In a linear TOF instrument, unresolved isotopic profiles limit the apparent resolution to much lower values than the actual instrument resolution. By using 12C/14N-enriched oligonucleotides, the apparent resolution can be improved significantly. The isotope enrichment method also enhances the signal-to-noise ratio.