We examined the different steps necessary for the enzymatic digestion of proteins in the polyacrylamide matrix after gel electrophoresis. As a result, we developed an improved method for obtaining peptides for internal sequence analysis from 1-2 micrograms of in-gel-digested proteins. The long washing-lyophilization-equilibration steps necessary to eliminate the dye, sodium dodecyl sulfate, and other gel-associated contaminants that perturb protein digestion in Coomassie blue-stained gels have been replaced by washing for 40 min with 50% acetonitrile, drying for 10 min at room temperature, and then rehydrating with a protease solution. The washing and drying steps result in a substantial reduction of the gel slice volume that, when next swollen in the protease solution, readily absorbs the enzyme, facilitating digestion. The Coomassie blue staining procedure has also been modified by reducing acetic acid and methanol concentrations in the staining solution and by eliminating acetic acid in the destaining solution. The peptides resulting from the in-gel digestion are easily recovered by passive elution, in excellent yields for structural characterization. This simple and rapid method has been successfully applied for the internal sequence analysis of membrane proteins from the rat mitochondria resolved in preparative two-dimensional gel electrophoresis.