A knowledge of the 'proteome,' total protein output encoded by a genome, provides information on (1) if and when predicted gene products are translated, (2) the relative concentrations of gene products, and (3) the extent of posttranslational modification, none of which can be accurately predicted from the nucleic acid sequence alone. The current status of proteome analysis is reviewed with respect to some of the techniques employed, automation, relevance to genomic studies, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics, limitations, and recent improvements in resolution and sensitivity for the detection of protein expression in whole cells, tissues, or organisms. The concept of 'proteomic contigs' is introduced for the first time. Traditional approaches to genomic analysis call upon a number of strategies to produce contiguous DNA sequence information, while 'proteomic contigs' are derived from multiple molecular mass and isoelectric point windows in order to construct a picture of the total protein expression within living cells. In higher eukaryotes, the latter may require several dozen image subsets of protein spots to be stitched together using advanced image analysis. The utility of both experimental and theoretical peptide-mass fingerprinting (PMF) and associated bioinformatics is outlined. A previously unknown motif within the peptide sequence of Elongation Factor Tu from Thermus aquaticus was discovered using PMF. This motif was shown to possess potential significance in maintaining structural integrity of the entire molecule.