The novel discipline of proteomics has experienced a rapid growth in the recent past and has great potentials for the future. The study of proteins on a genomic scale enables a large number of proteins to be analysed simultaneously. Moreover, proteomic analysis reveals the presence of protein isoforms and post-translational modifications, both of which have the potential to regulate protein complex formation, activity and function. As such, the assessment of the proteome, unlike genomic analysis, provides a view of biological processes at their level of occurrence. The knowledge thus gained is important not only for a better understanding of renal physiology and pathophysiology, but also for the identification of disease markers and the development of new therapies. This review applies the science of proteomics to nephrology: our aim is to give an overview of the discipline, providing background information and outlining the scope, advantages and limitations of proteomics.