A nuclear magnetic resonance study of the conformation of the tetrapeptide acetyl-Pro-Ala-Pro-Tyr-NH2 bound to porcine pancreatic elastase is presented. From two-dimensional transferred nuclear Overhauser enhancement measurements, a set of 23 approximate distance restraints between pairs of bound ligand protons, indicative of an extended type structure, is derived. The structure of the bound tetrapeptide is then refined from two different starting structures (an extended beta-strand and a polyproline helix) by restrained molecular dynamics, in which the interproton distances are incorporated into the total energy of the system in the form of effective potentials. Convergence to essentially the same average restrained dynamics structures is achieved. The refined structures are then modelled into the active site of elastase by interactive molecular graphics. The determination of the anchor point of the bound tetrapeptide on the enzyme was aided by a simultaneous crystallographic study which, despite the fact that only electron density for a Pro-X dipeptide fragment was visible, enabled both the approximate position and orientation of binding to be determined. It is found that the tetrapeptide is bound in the S' binding site in the reverse orientation found in other serine protease-inhibitor complexes and is stabilized both by hydrogen-bonding and by van der Waals' interactions.