A hepatoprotective peptide, pyroglutamyl leucine (pyroGlu-Leu), was identified in wheat gluten hydrolysate through an in vivo activity-guided fractionation approach based on D-galactosamine-induced acute hepatitis in rats and fractionation of peptides with large-scale preparative ampholine-free isoelectric focusing. The active acidic fraction predominantly consisted of pyroglutamyl peptides and free pyroglutamic acid. Pyroglutamyl peptides were derivatized with phenyl isothiocyanate after removal of a pyroglutamyl residue by pyroglutamate aminopeptidase. The derivatives were purified by reversed-phase HPLC and subjected to sequence analysis. The active fraction contained pyroGlu-Ile, pyroGlu-Leu, pyroGlu-Gln, pyroGlu-Gln-Gln, and free pyroGlu. Ingestion of pyroGlu-Leu at 20 mg/kg body weight significantly decreased serum aspartate and alanine aminotransferases to approximately 30% and 20% of those values of the vehicle group, respectively, which were near the normal levels. Thirty minutes after ingestion of pyroGlu-Leu at 20 mg/kg, the concentration of pyroGlu-Leu in portal blood plasma increased to approximately 2 μM.