Previous studies by Wishart et al. [Wishart, D. S., Sykes, B. D., & Richards, F. M. (1991) J. Mol. Biol. (in press)] have demonstrated that 1H NMR chemical shifts are strongly dependent on the character and nature of protein secondary structure. In particular, it has been found that the 1H NMR chemical shift of the alpha-CH proton of all 20 naturally occurring amino acids experiences an upfield shift (with respect to the random coil value) when in a helical configuration and a comparable downfield shift when in a beta-strand extended configuration. On the basis of these observations, a technique is described for rapidly and quantitatively determining the identity, extent, and location of secondary structural elements in proteins based on the simple inspection of the alpha-CH 1H resonance assignments. A number of examples are provided to demonstrate both the simplicity and the accuracy of the technique. This new method is found to be almost as accurate as the more traditional NOE-based methods of determining secondary structure and could prove to be particularly useful in light of the recent development of sequential assignment techniques which are now almost NOE-independent [Ikura, M., Kay, L. E., & Bax, A. (1990) Biochemistry 29, 4659-4667]. We suggest that this new procedure should not necessarily be seen as a substitute to existing rigorous methods for secondary structure determination but, rather, should be viewed as a complement to these approaches.