The origin and nature of the high-energy ions emitted by a discharge produced plasma source are studied using gated pinhole camera imaging. Time-of-flight analysis in combination with Faraday cup measurements enables characterization of the high-velocity component of the ionic debris. The use of an optional magnetic field allows mass-to-charge analysis of the first part of the Faraday cup signal. It is shown that this consists mainly of oxygen ions emitted from a region near the cathode. Time-resolved images of Sn ions with a kinetic energy of 45 keV visualize the regions in between the electrodes where the high-energy ion generation takes place. © 2009 American Institute of Physics.