Background: Protein expression profiling for differences indicative of early cancer has promise for improving diagnostics. This report describes the first stage of a National Cancer Institute/Early Detection Research Network-sponsored multiinstitutional evaluation and validation of this approach for detection of prostate cancer. Methods: Two sequential experimental phases were conducted to establish interlaboratory calibration and standardization of the surface-enhanced laser desorption (SELDI) instrumental and assay platform output. We first established whether the output from multiple calibrated Protein Biosystem II SELDI-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS) instruments demonstrated acceptable interlaboratory reproducibility. This was determined by measuring mass accuracy, resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and normalized intensity of three m/z "peaks" present in a standard pooled serum sample. We next evaluated the ability of the calibrated and standardized instrumentation to accurately differentiate between selected cases of prostate cancer and control by use of an algorithm developed from data derived from a single site 2 years earlier. Results: When the described standard operating procedures were established at all laboratory sites, the across-laboratory measurements revealed a CV for mass accuracy of 0.1%, signal-to-noise ratio of ∼40%, and normalized intensity of 15-36% for the three pooled serum peaks. This was comparable to the intralaboratory measurements of the same peaks. The instrument systems were then challenged with sera from a selected group of 14 cases and 14 controls. The classification agreement between each site and the established decision algorithm were examined by use of both raw peak intensity boosting and ranked peak intensity boosting. All six sites achieved perfect blinded classification for all samples when boosted alignment of raw intensities was used. Four of six sites achieved perfect blinded classification with ranked intensities, with one site passing the criteria of 26 of 28 correct and one site failing with 19 of 28 correct. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that "between-laboratory" reproducibility of SELDI-TOF-MS serum profiling approaches that of "within-laboratory" reproducibility as determined by measuring discrete m/z peaks over time and across laboratories. © 2005 American Association for Clinical Chemistry.