The biopharmaceutical industry has been in pursuit of strategies which can isolate stable and high-producing cell lines. The whole cell mass spectrometry method by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) is a rapid and simple method for cell characterization based on the differences in the fingerprints of the mass spectra. This work describes how the method was evaluated for the application of screening for stable and high-producing clones from a panel of recombinant Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines. Detectable m/z values and their relative intensities were collected and processed by partial least squares (PLS). To reduce the errors introduced by the preparation method and spectra noise, high intensity preliminary data was selected and the number of variables introduced was validated by leave-one-out cross-validation. The differences in recombinant protein productivity and titer were revealed by PLS regression with promising results. Partial least-squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was applied to differentiate stable and unstable cell lines as traditional stability testing would require several months involving numerous continuous passages. Results confirmed that the whole cell MALDI-TOF method can be a powerful method for routine monitoring of bioprocesses and study can be further developed by extending the number of the cell lines tested to establish a recombinant cell line database. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.