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Protein identification by peptide mass fingerprinting, using the matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), plays a major role in large proteome projects. In order to develop a simple and reliable method for protein identification by MALDI-TOF MS, we compared and evaluated the major steps in peptide mass fingerprinting. We found that the removal of excess enzyme from the in-gel digestion usually gave a few more peptide peaks, which were important for the identification of some proteins. Internal calibration always gave better results. However, for a large number of samples, two step calibrations (i.e. database search with peptide mass from external calibration, then the use of peptide masses from the search result as internal calibrants) were useful and convenient. From the evaluation and combination of steps that were already developed by others, we established a single overall procedure for peptide identification from a polyacrylamide gel.