Small-angle neutron scattering and pulsed-gradient spin-echo NMR have been used to examine the solution conformation of a series of water soluble poly(N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide) P(HPMA) co-polymer drug delivery vehicles incorporating a coiled-coil peptide motif as a novel pH sensitive non-covalent linker. The conformation of the HPMA homopolymer is well-described by a Gaussian coil model and changing pH from pH 7 to pH 5 has little effect on the solution conformation, as quantified via the radius of gyration. Copolymerisation with 5-10 mol% of the K3 peptide bearing methacrylate monomer (K3-MA), gave a series of copolymers that exhibited an increase in radius of gyration at both pH's, despite being typically 30% lower in molecular weight, indicating that the K3-MA causes a perturbation (expansion) of the copolymer conformation. Subsequent addition of an equimolar amount of the complementary peptide E3 makes little further difference to the conformation, indicative of the intimate binding (coiled-coil motif) between the two peptides. Again, the effects of pH are small. Only the addition of a large aromatic structure such as methotrexate causes a further perturbation of the structure - the hydrophobic interaction between the MTX units causes a significant collapse of the polymer coil. These findings further elaborate the understanding of those factors that determine the solution conformation of novel polymer therapeutics. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.