Mass spectrometry (MS) is the most comprehensive and versatile tool in large-scale proteomics. In this review, we dissect the overall framework of the MS experiment into its key components. We discuss the fundamentals of proteomic analyses as well as recent developments in the areas of separation methods, instrumentation, and overall experimental design. We highlight both the inherent strengths and limitations of protein MS and offer a rough guide for selecting an experimental design based on the goals of the analysis. We emphasize the versatility of the Orbitrap, a novel mass analyzer that features high resolution (up to 150,000), high mass accuracy (2-5 ppm), a mass-to-charge range of 6000, and a dynamic range greater than 10(3). High mass accuracy of the Orbitrap expands the arsenal of the data acquisition and analysis approaches compared with a low-resolution instrument. We discuss various chromatographic techniques, including multidimensional separation and ultra-performance liquid chromatography. Multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) involves a continuum sample preparation, orthogonal separations, and MS and software solutions. We discuss several aspects of MudPIT applications to quantitative phosphoproteomics. MudPIT application to large-scale analysis of phosphoproteins includes (a) a fractionation procedure for motif-specific enrichment of phosphopeptides, (b) development of informatics tools for interrogation and validation of shotgun phosphopeptide data, and (c) in-depth data analysis for simultaneous determination of protein expression and phosphorylation levels, analog to western blot measurements. We illustrate MudPIT application to quantitative phosphoproteomics of the beta adrenergic pathway. We discuss several biological discoveries made via mass spectrometry pipelines with a focus on cell signaling proteomics.