Poplar is the first forest tree genome to be decoded. As an initial step to the comprehensive analysis of poplar proteome, we described reference 2-D-maps for eight tissues/organs of the plant, and the functional characterization of some proteins. A total of 398 proteins were excised from the gels. About 91.2% were identified by nanospray LC-MS/MS, based on comparison with 260 000 Populus sp. ESTs. In comparison, reliable PMFs were obtained for only 51% of the spots by MALDI-TOF-MS, from which 43% (83 spots) positively matched gene models of the Populus trichocarpa genome sequence. Among these 83 spots, 58% matched with the same proteins as identified by LC-MS/MS, 21.7% with unknown function proteins and 19.3% with completely different functions. In the second phase, we studied the effect of drought stress on poplar root and leaf proteomes. The function of up- and down-regulated proteins is discussed with respect to the physiological response of the plants and compared with transcriptomic data. Some important clues regarding the way poplar copes with water deficit were revealed.