Protein degradation is a fundamental biological process, which is essential for the maintenance and regulation of normal cellular function. In humans and animals, proteins can be degraded by a number of mechanisms: the ubiquitin-proteasome system, autophagy and intracellular proteases. The advances in contemporary protein analysis means that proteomics is increasingly being used to explore these key pathways and as a means of monitoring protein degradation. The dysfunction of protein degradative pathways has been associated with the development of a number of important diseases including cancer, muscle wasting disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. This review will focus on the role of proteomics to study cellular degradative processes and how these strategies are being applied to understand the molecular basis of diseases arising from disturbances in protein degradation.