The melanocortin receptor system consists of endogenous agonists, antagonists, G-protein coupled receptors, and auxiliary proteins that are involved in the regulation of complex physiological functions such as energy and weight homeostasis, feeding behavior, inflammation, sexual function, pigmentation, and exocrine gland function. Herein, we report the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of a new chimeric hAGRP-melanocortin agonist peptide template Tyr-c[beta-Asp-His-DPhe-Arg-Trp-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH(2) that was characterized using amino acids previously reported in other melanocortin agonist templates. Twenty peptides were examined in this study, and six peptides were selected for (1)H NMR and computer-assisted molecular modeling structural analysis. The most notable results include the identification that modification of the chimeric template at the His position with Pro and Phe resulted in ligands that were nM mouse melanocortin-3 receptor (mMC3R) antagonists and nM mouse melanocortin-4 receptor (mMC4R) agonists. The peptides Tyr-c[beta-Asp-His-DPhe-Ala-Trp-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH(2) and Tyr-c[beta-Asp-His-DNal(1')-Arg-Trp-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH(2) resulted in 730- and 560-fold, respectively, mMC4R versus mMC3R selective agonists that also possessed nM agonist potency at the mMC1R and mMC5R. Structural studies identified a reverse turn occurring in the His-DPhe-Arg-Trp domain, with subtle differences observed that may account for the differences in melanocortin receptor pharmacology. Specifically, a gamma-turn secondary structure involving the DPhe(4) in the central position of the Tyr-c[beta-Asp-Phe-DPhe-Arg-Trp-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH(2) peptide may differentiate the mixed mMC3R antagonist and mMC4R agonist pharmacology.