In the present investigation, we have identified 56 major spots, or spot rows, corresponding to 22 proteins, in the 2-DE pattern of adult male rats. This was done mainly by applying two complementary techniques, namely immunoblotting and high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) peptide mapping. Glycoproteins were characterized by affinity blotting with six lectins. We have also detailed how rat serum differs from human serum in two main respects: (i) relative abundance of individual proteins, which amounts in some cases to a complete absence in either sample, and (ii) varying molecular parameters for homologous proteins. It was thus possible to establish a first-generation reference map of rat serum proteins, which can be accessed through http://weber.u.washington.edu/ruedilab/aebersold++ +.html. We hope the present database will be a useful reference for the evaluation of changes in serum protein distribution in the course of pharmacological and toxicological studies. The recognition of species-specific proteins appears of special relevance in this respect.