The tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) is a 34-amino acid helix-turn-helix motif that occurs in tandem arrays in numerous proteins. Here we compare the backbone dynamics of a natural 3-repeat TPR domain, from the protein UBP, with the behavior of a designed protein CTPR3, which consists of three identical consensus TPR units. Although the three tandem TPR repeats in both CTPR3 and UBP behave as a single unit, with no evidence of independent repeat motions, the data indicate that certain positions in UBP are significantly more flexible than are the corresponding positions in CTPR3. Most of the dynamical changes occur at or adjacent to positions that are involved in intra-repeat packing interactions. These observations lead us to suggest that the three-TPR domain of UBP does not incorporate optimized packing, compared to that seen in the idealized CTPR. The natural TPR domain is not only less stable overall than CTPR3, but also presents increased local flexibility at the positions where the sequences differs from the conserved consensus.