This review focuses on biological and biomedical mass spectrometry, and covers a selection of publications in this area included in the MEDLINE database for the period 1987 - 2001. Over the last 15 years, biological and biomedical mass spectrometry has progressed out of all recognition. The development of soft ionization methods, such as electrospray ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, has mainly contributed to the remarkable progress, because they can easily produce gas-phase ions of large, polar, and thermally labile biomolecules, such as proteins, peptides, nucleic acids and others. The innovations of ionization methods have led to remarkable progress in mass spectrometric technology and in biochemistry, biotechnology and molecular biology research. In addition, mass spectrometry is one of the powerful and effective technologies for drug discovery and development. It is applicable to studies on structural determination, drug metabolism, including pharmacokinetics and toxicokinetics, and de novo drug discovery by applying post-genomic approarches. In the present review, the innovative soft ionization methods are first discussed along with their features. Also, the characteristics of the mass spectrometers which are active in the biological and biomedical research fields are also described. In addition, examples of the applications of biological and biomedical mass spectrometry are provided.