Numerous biological processes are concurrently and coordinately active in every living cell. Each of them encompasses synthetic, catalytic and regulatory functions that are, almost always, carried out by proteins organized further into higher-order structures and networks. For decades, the structures and functions of selected proteins have been studied using biochemical and biophysical methods. However, the properties and behaviour of the proteome as an integrated system have largely remained elusive. Powerful mass-spectrometry-based technologies now provide unprecedented insights into the composition, structure, function and control of the proteome, shedding light on complex biological processes and phenotypes.