We have studied the role(s) of maturation drying in the acquisition of germinability, seedling vigor and pathogen resistance by comparing the proteome changes in maize embryo and endosperm during mature and prematurely imposed drying. Prematurely imposed dried seeds at 40 days after pollination (DAP) germinated almost as well as mature seeds (at 65 DAP), but their seedling growth was slower and they were seriously infected by fungi. A total of 80 and 114 proteins were identified to change at least two-fold (p < 0.05) in abundance during maturation drying in embryo and endosperm, respectively. Fewer proteins (48 and 59 in embryo and endosperm, respectively) changed in abundance during prematurely imposed drying. A number of proteins, 33 and 38 in embryo and endosperm, respectively, changed similarly in abundance during both maturation and prematurely imposed drying. Storage proteins were abundant in this group and may contribute to the acquisition of seed germinability. However, a relatively large number of proteins changed in the embryo (47 spots) and endosperm (76 spots) specifically during maturation drying. Among these proteins, storage proteins in the embryo and defense proteins in the endosperm may be particularly important for seedling vigor and resistance to fungal infection, respectively.