Ranking as the fourth commonest cancer, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) represents one of the leading causes of cancer death in China. One of the main reasons for the low survival rate is that neoplasms in esophagus are not detected until they have invaded into surrounding tissues or spread throughout the body at advanced stages. A better understanding of the malignant mechanism and early diagnosis are important for fighting ESCC. In this study, we used proteomics to analyze ESCC tissues, aiming at defining the proteomic features implicated in the multistage progression of esophageal carcinogenesis. Proteins that exhibited significantly different expressions were identified by peptide mass fingerprinting and validated by Western blotting and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. The protein changes were then correlated to the different grades of disease differentiation. Compared to those in adjacent normal epitheliums, the expression of 15 proteins including enolase, elongation factor Tu, isocitrate dehydrogenase, tubulin alpha-1 chain, tubulin beta-5 chain, actin (cytoplasmic 1), glyceraldehyde-3 phosphate dehydrogenase, tropomyosin isoform 4 (TPM4), prohibitin, peroxiredoxin 1 (PRX1), manganese-containing superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), neuronal protein, and transgelin was up-regulated; and the expression of five proteins including TPM1, squamous cell carcinoma antigen 1 (SCCA1), stratifin, peroxiredoxin 2 isoform a, and alpha B crystalline was down-regulated in cancer tissues with a statistical significance (p < 0.05). In addition, the differential expression of SCCA1, PRX1, MnSOD, TPM4, and prohibitin can be observed in precancerous lesions of ESCC. The expression of stratifin, prohibitin, and SCCA1 dropped with increasing dedifferentiation of ESCC. These data may suggest that these proteins contribute to the multistage process of carcinogenesis, tumor progression, and invasiveness of ESCC.