Peptides and proteins are gaining increasing attention in biosciences and, consequently, in analysis. This overview highlights the different approaches to couple on-line various separation techniques for the determination of proteins and peptides. The first section discusses the liquid chromatography (LC)-LC coupling, the second one reviews the on-line LC-capillary electrophoresis (CE) coupled systems and the third section summarizes the strategies for on-line CE-CE. The advantages, disadvantages, most relevant difficulties and particular systems for on-line coupling are discussed. Special attention is paid to the interface between the two dimensions. Applications are summarized in tables and a few typical examples are discussed. Many multidimensional separation methods are available, and it is demonstrated that peptide and protein mapping, or quantitation of proteins or peptides in various samples (aqueous solutions, cells, plasma) require different coupled systems. For mapping a semi-quantitative detection is often sufficient, while comprehensiveness is very important. For quantitation of a certain peptide or protein at a low concentration level a validated method should be used, while a heart-cut transport of the first dimension to the second one can offer sufficient selectivity. The combination with mass spectrometry as part of the total system is stressed and illustrated. © 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.