The solution conformations of the protein hirudin have been investigated by the combined use of distance geometry and restained molecular dynamics calculations. The basis for the structure determination comprised 359 approximate inter-proton distance restrains and 10 phi backbone torsion angle restrains derived from n.m.r. measurements. It is shown that hirudin is composed of three domains: a central core made up of residues 3-30, 37-46 and 56-57; a protruding 'finger' (residues 31-36) consisting of the tip of an antiparallel beta sheet, and an exposed loop (residues 47-55). The structure of each individual domain is relatively well defined with average backbone atomic r.m.s. differences of <2 A between the final seven converged restrained dynamic structures and the mean structure obtained by averaging their coordinates. The orientation of the two minor domains relative to the central core, however, could not be determined as no long-range (i-h >5) interdomain proton-proton contacts could be observed in the two-dimensional nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectra. From the restrained molecular dynamics calculations it appears that the two minor domains exhibit large rigid-body motions relative to the central core.