The completed genome of Methanococcus jannaschii, including the main chromosome and two extra-chromosomal elements, predicts a proteome comprised of 1783 proteins. How many of those proteins are expressed at any given time and the relative abundance of the expressed proteins, however, cannot be predicted solely from the genome sequence. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis coupled with peptide mass spectrometry is being used to identify the proteins expressed by M. jannaschii cells grown under different conditions as part of an effort to correlate protein expression with regulatory mechanisms. Here we describe the identification of 170 of the most abundant proteins found in total lysates of M. jannaschii grown under optimal fermentation conditions. To optimize the number of proteins detected, two different protein specific stains (Coomassie Blue R250 or silver nitrate) and two different first dimension separation methods (isoelectric focusing or nonequilibrium pH gradient electrophoresis) were used. Thirty-two percent of the proteins identified are annotated as hypothetical (21% conserved hypothetical and 11% hypothetical), 21% are enzymes involved in energy metabolism, 12% are proteins required for protein synthesis, and the remainder include proteins necessary for intermediary metabolism, cell division, and cell structure. Evidence of post-translational modification of numerous M. jannaschii proteins has been found, as well as indications of incomplete dissociation of protein-protein complexes. These results demonstrate the complexity of proteome analysis even when dealing with a relatively simple genome.