Mycotoxin zearalenone (ZEN) is a secondary metabolite produced by some Fusarium species that contaminate a large variety of grains and feedstuffs worldwide. ZEN has been associated with a wide variety of adverse health effects including hepatotoxic, hematologic, immunotoxic and genotoxic. In order to better understand the mechanism of ZEN toxicity, a proteomic approach was applied to characterize cellular responses of hepatocarcinoma cells (HepG2) to ZEN exposure. Protein extracts from cultured HepG2 cells treated with 100 µm ZEN for 8 h, as well as extracts from control cells. The screening method applied to compare the proteome was based on the stable isotope approach of isobaric tagging for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ). This study identified 982 proteins, among which peptides and their corresponding proteins were identified and quantified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Ingenuity pathways analysis software was then used to determine the biological functions and canonical pathways associated with the ZEN-responsive proteins. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.