Spelt wheat (Triticum spelta L.) has not been investigated for the toxicity on coeliac disease patients until now. Because clinical studies are out of considerations for ethical reasons, spelt wheat and coeliac-active bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were compared by the analysis of N-terminal sequences of alpha-gliadins, which have been proposed to be responsible for the toxic effect. The gliadin fractions of the spelt wheats 'Roquin' and 'Schwabenkorn' and of the bread wheat 'Rektor' were preparatively separated by RP-HPLC and major alpha-gliadin components were then compared by N-terminal sequence analysis. The results did not reveal any significant difference between spelt and bread wheats within the first 25 positions. For the determination of sequences further from the N-terminus, the gliadin fractions of the spelt wheats were hydrolyzed with pepsin and trypsin. The resulting peptides were successively separated by gel permeation chromatography and RP-HPLC. Those peptides derived from the N-terminal part of alpha-gliadins were identified by reference peptides isolated previously from bread wheat [this journal 194: 229 (1992)]. Retention times upon RP-HPLC and amino acid compositions of corresponding peptides confirmed the identity of spelt and bread wheat concerning the N-terminal sequences of alpha-gliadins from position 3 to 56. For these reasons, it can be concluded that spelt wheat is a coeliac-toxic cereal and has to be avoided by coeliac patients.