Maize is a major economic crop worldwide, with substantial crop loss attributed to flooding. During a stress response, programmed cell death (PCD) can be an effective way for plants better adapt. To identify flooding stress related PCD proteins in maize leaves, proteomic analysis was performed using two-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) and mass spectrometry. Comparative proteomics was combined with physiological and biochemical analysis of maize leaves under flooding stress. Fv/Fm, qP, qN and relative water content (RWC) were found to be altered in response to flooding stress, with an increase in H2O2 content noted in vivo. Furthermore, DNA ladder detection indicated that PCD had occurred under flooding treatment. The maize leaf proteome was analyzed via 2D-DIGE gel, with a total of 32 differentially expressed spots isolated, 31 spots were successfully identified via MALDI-TOF/TOF MS which represent 28 proteins. The identified proteins were related to energy metabolism and photosynthesis, PCD, phytohormones and polyamines. To better characterize the role of translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP) in PCD during a stress response, mRNA expression was examined in different plants by stress-induced PCD. These included heat stress induced rice protoplasts, Tobacco Mosaic Virus infected tobacco leaves and dark induced rice and Arabidopsis thaliana leaves, all of which showed active PCD, and TCTP expression was increased in different degrees. Moreover, S-adenosylmethionine synthase 2 (SAMS2) and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) mRNA expression were also increased, but ACC synthase (ACS) and ACC oxidase (ACO) mRNA expression were not found in maize leaves following flooding. Lastly, ethylene and polyamine concentrations were increased in response to flooding treatment in maize leaves. Following flooding stress, the photosynthetic systems were damaged, resulting in a disruption in energy metabolism, with the noted photosynthetic decline also possibly attributed to ROS production. The observed PCD could be regulated by TCTP with a possible role for H2O2 in TCTP induction under flooding stress. Additionally, increased SAMS2 expression was closely associated with an increased polyamine synthesis during flooding treatment.