Sample preparation methods were compared for two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) of cellular proteins from the proteolytic bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis. Standard solubilization buffer yielded poorly resolved protein spots, but pre-treatment of cells with trichloroacetic acid or inclusion of the protease inhibitor TLCK during solubilization improved definition and separation. The latter approach allowed reliable detection of a 55 kDa immunodominant surface antigen by Western immunoblotting. Further improvements in resolution occurred when SDS was included in the sample preparation. Thus, controlling proteolysis and optimizing protein solubilization were essential for reproducible separations and maximal protein recovery during 2D-PAGE of P. gingivalis.