We have used MALDI-MS imaging (MALDI-MSI) to monitor the time dependent appearance and loss of signals when tissue slices are brought rapidly to room temperature for short to medium periods of time. Sections from mouse brain were cut in a cryostat microtome, placed on a MALDI target and allowed to warm to room temperature for 30 s to 3 h. Sections were then refrozen, fixed by ethanol treatment and analysed by MALDI-MSI. The intensity of a range of markers were seen to vary across the time course, both increasing and decreasing, with the intensity of some markers changing significantly within 30 s and markers also showed tissue location specific evolution. The markers resulting from this autolysis were compared directly to those that evolved in a comparable 16 h on-tissue trypsin digest, and the markers that evolved in the two studies were seen to be substantially different. These changes offer an important additional level of location-dependent information for mapping changes and seeking disease-dependent biomarkers in the tissue. They also indicate that considerable care is required to allow comparison of biomarkers between MALDI-MSI experiments and also has implications for the standard practice of thaw-mounting multiple tissue sections onto MALDI-MS targets.