Applying complementary experiments, like laser desorption-ionization mass spectrometry (LDI-MS) and confocal surface-enhanced Raman microscopy, to the same physical sample location has the potential to elucidate the behavior of complex chemical and biochemical systems in ways that are not available to either method applied in isolation. In these experiments surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and LDI-MS are applied to the same sample spot using a common structure, deposited Ag colloids, both as ionization matrix and simultaneously as enhancing media for surface-enhanced Raman scattering of small organic molecules, dyes and lipids, and the behavior is compared. Three compounds—p-aminothiophenol (ATP), rhodamine 6G and cholesterol—which exhibit different strengths of interaction with Ag are examined in detail by correlated SERS and LDI-MS. The related mechanisms of nanoparticle-assisted desorption-ionization and Raman enhancement are explored by correlating mass and Raman spectra. The correlated spectra highlight the manner in which the different test compounds interact with plasmonic metal nanostructures. These coupled studies yield new insight into the transition of analyte from the metal–solution interface to gaseous ions, including, in the case of organothiols, a rich set of mixed clusters that provide chemical insight into the ion formation process.