A new hybrid distance space-real space method for determining three-dimensional structures of proteins on the basis of interproton distance restraints is presented. It involves the following steps: (i) the approximate polypeptide fold is obtained by generating a set of substructures comprising only a small subset of atoms by projection from multi-dimensional distance space into three-dimensional cartesian coordinate space using a procedure known as 'embedding'; (ii) all remaining atoms are then added by best fitting extended amino acids one residue at a time to the substructures; (iii) the resulting structures are used as the starting point for real space dynamical simulated annealing calculations. The latter involve heating the system to a high temperature followed by slow cooling in order to overcome potential barriers along the pathway towards the global minimum region. This is carried out by solving Newton's equations of motion. Unlike conventional restrained molecular dynamics, however, the non-bonded interactions are represented by a simple van der Waals repulsion term. The method is illustrated by calculations on crambin (46 residues) and the globular domain of histone H5 (79 residues). It is shown that the hybrid method is more efficient computationally and samples a larger region of conformational space consistent with the experimental data than full metric matrix distance geometry calculations alone, particularly for large systems.