The work presented here directly measures metal impurity distributions and their chemical state in as-grown and fully processed polycrystalline silicon used for terrestrial-based solar cells. The goal was to determine if a correlation exists between poorly performing regions of solar cells and metal impurity distributions as well as to ascertain the chemical state of the impurities. Synchrotron-based x-ray fluorescence mapping and x-ray absorption spectroscopy, both with a spatial resolution of lμm, were used to measure impurity distributions and chemical state, respectively, in poorly performing regions of polycrystalline silicon. The Light Beam Induced Current method was used to measure minority carrier recombination in the material in order to identify poor performance regions. We have detected iron, chromium, nickel, gold and copper impurity precipitates and we have recognized a direct correlation between impurity distributions and poor performing regions in both as-grown and fully processed material. Furthermore, from x-ray absorption studies, we have initial results, indicating that the Fe in this material is in oxide form, not FeSi2,. These results provide a fundamental understanding into the efficiency-limiting factors of polycrystalline silicon solar cells as well as yielding insight for methods of solar cell improvement.