BACKGROUND : Human milk is a dynamic food and some important differences in composition can be found between the milk from preterm and terms infants. Additionally, in some situations, the mother's own milk is unavailable and the use of milk from human milk banks is considered as the most appropriate substitute. In this way, concentrations of trace elements (Ba, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Se, Sr, and Zn) were determined in human milk, considering the differences about preterm and term human milk and its processing in a human milk bank. METHODS : A total of 156 samples were analyzed, which were divided in three groups: samples collected at the hospital at bedside (BS, 60 samples) from mothers of preterm infants and samples from mothers of term infants collected in a human milk bank without pasteurization (WP, 49 samples) and pasteurized by the Holder procedure (P, 47 samples). The analyzes were conducted by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) after the treatment of the samples with acid mineralization assisted by microwave radiation. RESULTS : Concentrations varied in a range of 0.6-88.2 μg/L for Ba, 78.6-954.5 μg/L for Cu, 24.2-5229.2 μg/L for Fe, 0.4-42.6 μg/L for Mn, 0.1-39.1 μg/L for Mo, 2.5-70.6 μg/L for Se, 8.9-187.5 μg/L for Sr and 76.3-17727.2 μg/L for Zn. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were found between preterm (BS) and term human milk (WP and P) for Ba, Cu, Mo, Se, and Zn, whereas the processing of the donated milk by Holder pasteurization did not influence the concentration of the studied trace elements. The milk of term infants does not attend the recommended daily intake (RDI) of Zn and for preterm infants the RDI of Fe and Mn is not achieved. CONCLUSIONS : The higher concentrations of Cu, Mo, Se and Zn observed in milk from mothers of preterm infants indicate that the milk to be offered for these high-risk neonates in neonatal intensive care units should contain higher levels of these trace elements. Besides, considering the RDI, the milk of term infants should be fortified with Zn, whereas the milk of preterm infants should be fortified with Fe.