Copyright © 2016 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Tunable vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation coupled to mass spectrometry is applied to the study of complex chemical systems. The identification of novel reactive intermediates and radicals is revealed in flame, pulsed photolysis, and pyrolysis reactors, leading to the elucidation of spectroscopy, reaction mechanisms, and kinetics. Mass-resolved threshold photoelectron photoion coincidence measurements provide unprecedented access to vibrationally resolved spectra of free radicals present in high-temperature reactors. Photoionization measurements in water clusters, nucleic acid base dimers, and their complexes with water provide signatures of proton transfer in hydrogen-bonded and π-stacked systems. Experimental and theoretical methods to track ion-molecule reactions and fragmentation pathways in intermolecular and intramolecular hydrogen-bonded systems in sugars and alcohols are described. Photoionization of laser-ablated molecules, clusters, and their reaction products inform thermodynamics and spectroscopy that are relevant to astrochemistry and catalysis. New directions in coupling VUV radiation to interrogate complex chemical systems are discussed.