The structural organization of small peptides reproducing the amino acid sequence of the common ocytocin/neurophysin precursor around the LysArg cleavage locus was investigated by a combination of spectroscopical techniques. In water both circular dichroism and [1H] NMR spectra indicated that these peptides adopted a random conformation. Evidence for folded structures was obtained when these compounds were placed in a membrane-like environment i.e. 40 mM SDS in phosphate buffer or trifluoroethanol. Whereas the CD spectra indicated the formation of various types of beta-turn in rapid equilibrium, measurements of NH temperature coefficients and Nuclear Overhauser Effects by 400 and 500 MHz NMR revealed the existence of contacts and of a folded conformation. These observations are discussed in relation with previous hypothesis made on the secondary structure organization of the proteolytic processing site of polypeptide hormone precursors.