Background Exposure to nickel (Ni) and its chemical derivatives has been associated with severe health effects in human. On the contrary, poor knowledge has been acquired on target physiological processes or molecular mechanisms of this metal in model organisms, including Bacteria and Archaea. In this study, we describe an analysis focused at identifying proteins involved in the recovery of the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus strain MT4 from Ni-induced stress. Results To this purpose, Sulfolobus solfataricus was grown in the presence of the highest nickel sulphate concentration still allowing cells to survive; crude extracts from treated and untreated cells were compared at the proteome level by using a bi-dimensional chromatography approach. We identified several proteins specifically repressed or induced as result of Ni treatment. Observed up-regulated proteins were largely endowed with the ability to trigger recovery from oxidative and osmotic stress in other biological systems. It is noteworthy that most of the proteins induced following Ni treatment perform similar functions and a few have eukaryal homologue counterparts. Conclusion These findings suggest a series of preferential gene expression pathways activated in adaptation response to metal challenge.