Although the vacuole is the most important final store for toxic heavy metals like cadmium (Cd(2+)), our knowledge on how they are transported into the vacuole is still insufficient. It has been suggested that Cd(2+) can be transported as phytochelatin-Cd(2+) by an unknown ABC transporter or in exchange with protons by cation/proton exchanger (CAX) transporters. To unravel the contribution of vacuolar transporters to Cd(2+) detoxification, a quantitative proteomics approach was performed. Highly purified vacuoles were isolated from barley plants grown under minus, low (20 microM), and high (200 microM) Cd(2+ )conditions and protein levels of the obtained tonoplast samples were analyzed using isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ). Although 56 vacuolar transporter proteins were identified, only a few were differentially expressed. Under low-Cd(2+) conditions, an inorganic pyrophosphatase and a gamma-tonoplast intrinsic protein (gamma-TIP) were up-regulated, indicating changes in energization and water fluxes. In addition, the protein ratio of a CAX1a and a natural resistance-associated macrophage protein (NRAMP), responsible for vacuolar Fe(2+) export was increased. CAX1a might play a role in vacuolar Cd(2+) transport. An increase in NRAMP activity leads to a higher cytosolic Fe(2+) concentration, which may prevent the exchange of Fe(2+) by toxic Cd(2+). Additionally, an ABC transporter homolog to AtMRP3 showed up-regulation. Under high Cd(2+) conditions, the plant response was more specific. Only a protein homologous to AtMRP3 that showed already a response under low Cd(2+) conditions, was up-regulated. Interestingly, AtMRP3 is able to partially rescue a Cd(2+)-sensitive yeast mutant. The identified transporters are good candidates for further investigation of their roles in Cd(2+) detoxification.