This invention relates to the apparatus, for sequencing natural or recombinant DNA and other polynucleotides. In particular, this invention relates to a method for sequencing polynucleotides based on mass spectrometry to determine which of the four bases (adenine, guanine, cytosine or thymine) is a component of the terminal nucleotide. In particular, the present invention relates to identifying the individual nucleotides by the mass of stable nuclide markers contained within either the dideoxynucleotides, the DNA primer, or the deoxynucleotide added to the primer. This invention is particularly useful in identifying specific DNA sequences in very small quantities in biological products produced by fermentation or other genetic engineering techniques. The invention is therefore useful in evaluating safety and other health concerns related to the presence of DNA in products resulting from genetic engineering techniques.