The general scope of a project to determine the protein molecules that comprise the cells within the human body is framed. By focusing on protein primary structure as expressed in specific cell types, this concept for a cell-based version of the Human Proteome Project (CB-HPP) is crafted in a manner analogous to the Human Genome Project while recognizing that cells provide a primary context in which to define a proteome. Several activities flow from this articulation of the HPP, which enables the definition of clear milestones and deliverables. The CB-HPP highlights major gaps in our knowledge regarding cell heterogeneity and protein isoforms, and calls for development of technology that is capable of defining all human cell types and their proteomes. The main activities will involve mapping and sorting cell types combined with the application of beyond the state-of-the art in protein mass spectrometry.