We compared detection sensitivity and protein sequence coverage of the adenovirus type 5 proteome achievable by liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectroscopy (LC/MS/MS) using three sample preparation and clean up methods. Tryptic digestion was performed on either purified viral proteins or whole virus, and followed by shotgun sequencing using tandem mass spectrometry for peptide identification. We used a recombinant adenovirus type 5 as a test system. The methods included separation of adenoviral proteins by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography followed by tryptic digestion and analysis by LC/MS/MS. Alternatively, the purified whole virus was digested with trypsin and the peptides separated either by one-dimensional (reversed-phase) or by two-dimensional (cation exchange and reversed-phase) chromatography and analyzed by tandem mass spectrometry. A total of 11 protein species were identified from 154 peptides. All of the major viral proteins were found. In addition, two minor proteins, the 23 kDa viral protease and the late L1 protein, were identified for the first time by chromatography based assays. The 23 kDa viral protease, present at only 10 copies per virus, and representing 0.2% of the protein content of the virus, was detected by the 2D LC/MS/MS analysis of the whole virus digest from a sample containing only 70 fmols of the protein. This demonstrates the high sensitivity and selectivity of the method. The 2D LC/MS/MS analysis of the whole virus digest was also able to detect all viral proteins with copy numbers at or above 10/virus particle, with broad coverage of the amino acid sequences. Coverage ranged from 2 to 54%, a majority between 20 and 35%, suggesting the possibility of using this analysis to assess the purity of the virus preparations. This broad coverage may also provide a useful approach to identify posttranslational modifications on the structural proteins of the adenovirus.