The target atomic number dependence of elastic and inelastic stopping power has been investigated by using theoretical stopping power formulations from literature. The stopping powers for target elements with atomic numbers from 3 to 92 are calculated on the basis of the model of Montenegro et al. and the nuclear stopping power is calculated using the formulation of Wilson et al.. The target atomic number dependence of the electronic and nuclear stopping power is examined for some light and heavy projectiles by comparing the stopping powers for all considered targets. It is observed that there is a strong target atomic number oscillation for helium, nickel and silver ions in nuclear and electronic stopping as a result of varying densities of neighboring elements. We have also determined the target materials, which apply a maximum total stopping force for some incident ions. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.