Escherichia coli lives in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract anaerobically at high osmolarity as well as in the soil aerobically at varying osmolarities. Adaptation to these varying environmental conditions is crucial for growth and survival of E. coli. Two-dimensional protein gels were used to visualize global time-dependent changes (10 to 60 min) in the proteome of cells responding to osmotic stress (0.4 M NaCl or 0.7 M sorbitol) under aerobic or anaerobic conditions. The protein profiles revealed an induction of 12 proteins (Dps, HchA, HdhA, InfB, OsmC, OsmY, ProX, KatE, PspA, TalA, TktB, and TreF) under osmotic stress in an aerobic milieu. Eleven additional proteins (OtsB, YceI, YciE, YciF, YgaU, YjbJ, AcnA, MetL, PoxB, Ssb, and YhbO) were induced by osmotic stress imposed by NaCl. Most of the accumulated proteins were cross-protecting proteins (e.g., OsmY, OsmC, Dps, and KatE) which are regulated at the transcriptional level predominantly by RpoS and other regulators (e.g., integration host factor, OxyR, H-NS, LRP, and FIS). Comparative analysis of the proteome of E. coli grown under aerobic or anaerobic conditions under osmotic stress (NaCl) revealed an overlap of the up-regulated proteins of more than 50%. Ten proteins (PoxB, AcnA, TalA, TktB, KatE, PspA, Ssb, TreF, MetL, and YhbO) were detectable only under aerobic, high-osmolality conditions. Time-dependent alterations of the proteome were monitored, allowing classification of the up-regulated proteins into early, middle, and long-term phases of adaptation. Only a few proteins were found to be down-regulated upon osmotic stress.