T lymphocytes expressing variable cell surface antigen receptors recognize "processed" forms of antigen, presented on the surface of other cells by molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Naturally processed antigenic peptides can be replaced by synthetic ones. The synthetic peptide AYPPPPPTLA (P5) is an active competitor to the antigenic peptide HLA A24 170-182 (sequence RYLENGKETLQRA) that is recognized by A24 specific T cells in association with the H-2Kd class I MHC molecule. In P5 the five prolines were designed to play the role of a rigid spacer between the residue Y and the T-L unit, so as to mimic the role of Y171, T178, and L179 in the HLA A24 antigenic peptide, since these residues have proven to be the most important with respect to the binding of the HLA A24 peptide with the H-2Kd MHC molecule. Nuclear magnetic resonance studies allow us to demonstrate that in aqueous solution P5 adopts at least three long-lived conformations that can be classified with respect to the Y2-P3-P4 amide bonds as trans-trans, cis-trans, and cis-cis. Among these, the trans-trans form is present in 67% of the molecules while the two others share the remaining 33%. [on SciFinder (R)]