A series of substrate analogue inhibitors of pancreatic phospholipase A2 has been designed and synthesized. The compounds were tested in a novel dual-screening system based on parallel assays with monomeric and micellar substrates. Intermolecular nuclear Overhauser effects between vinylic protons on one inhibitor and identified active site residues on the bovine pancreatic enzyme have been observed in solution NMR studies of the enzyme-inhibitor complex. It can be deduced from both the biochemical results and the NMR data that the mode of interaction between this type of inhibitor and the active site of phospholipase A2 is essentially the same, irrespective of the presence or absence of an aggregated phospholipid surface. A model of the binding between the enzyme and inhibitor which incorporates the two-dimensional NMR data has been developed. The model can account for the activity of modified inhibitor structures and can be extrapolated to an assessment of the mode of binding of the natural substrate itself.