The initial steps toward routinely applying mass spectrometry in the biochemical laboratory have been achieved. In the past, mass spectrometry was confined to the realm of small, relatively stable molecules; large or thermally labile molecules did not survive the desorption and ionization processes intact. Electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry allow for the analysis of both small and large biomolecules through "mild" desorption and ionization methods. The use of ESI and MALDI mass spectrometry extends beyond simple characterization. Noncovalent interactions, protein and peptide sequencing, DNA sequencing, protein folding, in vitro drug analysis, and drug discovery are among the areas to which ESI and MALDI mass spectrometry have been applied. This review summarizes recent developments and major contributions in mass spectrometry, focusing on the applications of MALDI and ESI mass spectrometry.