The application of multi-way parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC2) is described for the classification of different kinds of petroleum oils using GC-MS. Oils were subjected to controlled weathering for 2, 7 and 15 days and PARAFAC2 was applied to the three-way GC-MS data set (MS × GC × sample). The classification patterns visualized in scores plots and it was shown that fitting multi-way PARAFAC2 model to the natural three-way structure of GC-MS data can lead to the successful classification of weathered oils. The shift of chromatographic peaks was tackled using the specific structure of the PARAFAC2 model. A new preprocessing of spectra followed by a novel use of analysis of variance (ANOVA)-least significant difference (LSD) variable selection method were proposed as a supervised pattern recognition tool to improve classification among the highly similar diesel oils. This lead to the identification of diagnostic compounds in the studied diesel oil samples. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.