In osteoarthritis (OA) the turnover of extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules is disrupted by catabolic changes that lead to the production of a range of inflammatory mediators and the loss and fragmentation of proteoglycans, fibrillar and non-fibrillar collagens. These events result in the degradation and release of ECM fragments, which are potential biomarkers that can be detected in synovial fluid, blood and urine. Proteomics is increasingly applied in cartilage research and has the potential to advance our understanding of the biology of this tissue. It can also provide mechanistic insight into disease pathogenesis and progression and facilitate biomarker discovery. Here we review the area of cartilage and chondrocyte proteomics and published studies relevant to arthritis and OA biomarkers, highlighting areas of current and future research and development. Markers of tissue turnover in joints have the capacity to reflect disease-relevant biological activity potentially enabling a more rational approach to healthcare management. Therefore proteomic studies of cartilage, chondrocytes and their subcellular fractions and other joint cells and tissues may be particularly relevant in diagnostic orthopedics and therapeutic research.