Although the burden of septic acute kidney injury continues to increase, the molecular pathogenesis remains largely obscure. The aim of this exploratory study was a discovery-driven analysis of dynamic kidney tissue protein expression changes applied for the first time in a classic large mammal model of sepsis. To achieve this goal, analyses of protein expression alterations were performed in serial samples of kidney cortical biopsies (before, 12 and 22 h of sepsis) in mechanically ventilated pigs challenged with continuous infusion of pseudomonas aeruginosa and compared with sham-operated control data. Global protein expression was analyzed using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Normodynamic sepsis was associated with 43% reduction in glomerular filtration. The exposure to surgical stress per se altered the renal protein expression profile, while sepsis induced distinct and highly dynamic proteome evolution shifting the balance toward cellular distress phenotype. We identified 20 proteins whose expression changes discriminated effects of sepsis from those induced by surgery. The data implicate endoplasmic reticulum stress, oxidative stress, mitochondrial energy metabolism, immune/inflammatory signaling, and tubular transport as major activated pathways. Thus, by coupling the power of sequential tissue proteomics with whole-animal physiological studies, our study helped to establish a first global overview of critical renal proteomic events occurring during surgical trauma and early sepsis in a porcine model. The study supports the notion that multiple potentially subtle and even transient changes in several proteins which are members of key functional interrelated systems appear to play a role in septic acute kidney injury.