A proteomics study using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and mass spectrometry was performed on Phytophthora infestans. Proteins from cysts, germinated cysts and appressoria grown in vitro were isolated and separated by 2-DE. Statistical quantitative analysis of the protein spots from five independent experiments of each developmental stage revealed significant up-regulation of ten spots on gels from germinated cysts compared to cysts. Five spots were significantly up-regulated on gels from appressoria compared to germinated cysts and one of these up-regulated spots was not detectable on gels from cysts. In addition, one spot was significantly down-regulated and another spot not detectable on the gels from appressoria. The corresponding proteins to 13 of these spots were identified with high confidence using tandem mass spectrometry and database searches. The functions of the proteins that were up-regulated in germinated cysts and appressoria can be grouped into the following categories: protein synthesis (e.g. a DEAD box RNA helicase), amino acid metabolism, energy metabolism and reactive oxygen species scavenging. The spot not detected in appressoria was identified as the P. infestans crinkling-and necrosis-inducing protein CRN2. The identified proteins are most likely involved in the establishment of the infection of the host plant.