A new application of intact cell MALDI-TOF MS (ICM-MS) methodology is described for monitoring the production of viral proteins and viral like particles using the baculovirus/insect cells expression system. Various MALDI matrices, cell preparation methods, cell/matrix volume ratio and MALDI target application procedures were tested in order to obtain the highest intensity and reproducibility of intact insect cell spectra. The web interface, SPECLUST (http://bioinfo.thep.lu.se/speclust.html), was used to construct dendograms based on MALDI-TOF MS data for evaluation of fingerprint changes. We demonstrate that insect cell mass spectrum fingerprints are characteristic of each viral protein/particle production. Their changes along the time for each production experiment correlate with the intracellular viral protein content determined by Western blot. This work shows that this simple, fast and low cost assay, which requires low sample volume, is a powerful analytical tool that complements the most common analytical methods used for monitoring bioprocesses and has potential application in the biotechnological industry namely, in the production of recombinant proteins. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.