Conditions for the release of beta-casomorphin-7 from bovine beta-casein by gastrointestinal proteases in vitro were investigated. beta-Casomorphin-7 was released only from a genetic variant of beta-casein containing a His residue at the 67th position of the peptide chain. Elastase cleaved the peptide bond between Ile66 and His67, releasing the carboxyl terminus of beta-casomorphin-7. Pepsin and leucine aminopeptidase were required to release the amino terminus of this peptide. beta-Casomorphin-9, -13, and -21 also were isolated, and their opioid activities were measured. In this study, we also isolated a novel opioid peptide neocasomorphin-6 (Tyr-Pro-Val-Glu-Pro-Phe), which was released by action of trypsin or pepsin and chymotrypsin.