Protein complexes form, dissociate and re-form in order to perform specific cellular functions. In this two-pronged protocol, noncovalent protein complexes are initially isolated by affinity purification for subsequent identification of the components by liquid chromatography high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-MS) on a hybrid LTQ Orbitrap Velos. In the second prong of the approach, the affinity-purification strategy includes a chemical cross-linking step to 'freeze' a series of concurrently formed, heterogeneous protein subcomplex species that are visualized by gel electrophoresis. This branch of the methodology amalgamates standard and well-practiced laboratory methods to reveal compositional changes that occur in protein complex architecture. By using mouse N-terminally tagged streptavidin-binding peptide–hemagglutinin–TANK-binding kinase 1 (SH-TBK1), we chemically cross-linked the affinity-purified complex of SH-TBK1 with the homobifunctional lysine-specific reagent bis(sulfosuccinimidyl) suberate (BS3), and we separated the resultant protein complexes by denaturation and by silver-stained one- and two-dimensional SDS-PAGE. We observed a range of cross-linked TBK1 complexes of variable pI and Mr and confirmed them by immunoblotting. LC-MS analysis of in situ–digested cross-linked proteins shows differences in the composition of the TBK1 subcomplexes. The protocol is inherently simple and can be readily extended to the investigation of a range of protein complexes. From cell lysis to data generation by LC-MS, the protocol takes approximately 2.5 to 5.5 d to perform.