Porcine calpains (Ca2+-dependent cysteine proteinases) I and II, which had been purified each to a homogeneous state, were found to hydrolyze specifically carboxyl-terminal amide of substance P and several other biologically active peptidyl amides. This amidase-like activity was demonstrated both by determining released ammonia and by separating products on high-performance liquid chromatography followed by amino acid analysis. The calpain-catalyzed deamidation of substance P occurred exclusively at the carboxyl-terminal amide, leaving the side-chain glutamine intact. Enkepharinamide and MSH-release inhibiting factor were scarcely deamidated. Calpains I and II showed similar specificities for these amide substances and similar profiles of inhibitions by various protease inhibitors, but distinctly different Ca2+ requirements. The specificity constants, kcat/Km, for substance P were found to be three to four orders of magnitude higher than those for the synthetic substrates.