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The completion of the Plasmodium falciparum clone 3D7 genome provides a basis on which to conduct comparative proteomics studies of this human pathogen. Here, we applied a high-throughput proteomics approach to identify new potential drug and vaccine targets and to better understand the biology of this complex protozoan parasite. We characterized four stages of the parasite life cycle (sporozoites, merozoites, trophozoites and gametocytes) by multidimensional protein identification technology. Functional profiling of over 2,400 proteins agreed with the physiology of each stage. Unexpectedly, the antigenically variant proteins of var and rif genes, defined as molecules on the surface of infected erythrocytes, were also largely expressed in sporozoites. The detection of chromosomal clusters encoding co-expressed proteins suggested a potential mechanism for controlling gene expression.