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An analytic method is described for evaluating the average radial electron spectrum and the radial and total frequency-event spectrum for high-energy ions. For high-energy ions, indirect events make important contributions to frequency-event spectra. The method used for evaluating indirect events is to fold the radial electron spectrum with measured frequency-event spectrum for photons or electrons. The contribution from direct events is treated using a spatially restricted linear energy transfer (LET). We find that high-energy heavy ions have a significantly reduced frequency-averaged lineal energy (YF) compared to LET, while relativistic protons have a significantly increased YF and dose-averaged lineal energy (YD) for typical site sizes used in tissue equivalent proportional counters. Such differences represent important factors in evaluating event spectra with laboratory beams, in spaceflight, or in atmospheric radiation studies and in validation of radiation transport codes. The inadequacy of LET as descriptor because of deviations in values of physical quantities, such as track width, secondary electron spectrum, and yo for ions of identical LET is also discussed.