Revolutionary advances in biological mass spectrometry (MS) have provided a basic tool to make possible comprehensive proteomic analysis. Traditionally, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis has been used as a separation method coupled with MS to facilitate analysis of complex protein mixtures. Despite the utility of this method, the many challenges of comprehensive proteomic analysis has motivated the development of gel-free MS-based strategies to obtain information not accessible using two-dimensional gel separations. These advanced strategies have enabled researchers to dig deeper into complex proteomes, gaining insights into the composition, quantitative response, covalent modifications and macromolecular interactions of proteins that collectively drive cellular function. This review describes the current state of gel-free, high throughput proteomic strategies using MS, including (i) the separation approaches commonly used for complex mixture analysis; (ii) strategies for large-scale quantitative analysis; (iii) analysis of post-translational modifications; and (iv) recent advances and future directions. The use of these strategies to make new discoveries at the proteome level into the effects of disease or other cellular perturbations is discussed in a variety of contexts, providing information on the potential of these tools in electromagnetic field research.