IgG is a tetrameric protein composed of two copies each of the light and heavy chains. The four-chain structure is maintained by strong noncovalent interactions between the amino-terminal half of pairs of heavy-light chains and between the carboxyl-terminal regions of the two heavy chains. In addition, interchain disulfide bonds link each heavy-light chain and also link the paired heavy chains. An engineered human IgG4 specific for human tumor necrosis factor-alpha (CDP571) is similar to human myeloma IgG4 in that it is secreted as both disulfide bonded tetramers (approximately 75% of the total amount of IgG) and as tetramers composed of nondisulfide bonded half-IgG4 (heavy chain disulfide bonded to light chain) molecules. However, when CDP571 was genetically engineered with a proline at residue 229 of the core hinge region rather than serine, CDP571 (S229P), or with an IgG1 rather than IgG4 hinge region, CDP571(gamma 1), only trace amounts of nondisulfide bonded half-IgG tetramers were observed. Trypsin digest reversephase HPLC peptide mapping studies of CDP571 and CDP571(gamma 1) with on-line electrospray ionization mass spectroscopy supplemented with Edman sequencing identified the chemical factor preventing inter-heavy chain disulfide bond formation between half-IgG molecules: the two cysteines in the IgG4 and IgG1 core hinge region (CPSCP and CPPCP, respectively) are capable of forming an intrachain disulfide bond. Conformational modeling studies on cyclic disulfide bonded CPSCP and CPPCP peptides yielded energy ranges for the low-energy conformations of 31-33 kcal/mol and 40-42 kcal/mol, respectively. In addition, higher torsion and angle bending energies were observed for the CPPCP peptide due to backbone constraints caused by the extra proline. These modeling results suggest a reason why a larger fraction of intrachain bonds are observed in IgG4 rather than IgG1 molecules: the serine in the core hinge region of IgG4 allows more hinge region flexibility than the proline of IgG1 and thus may permit formation of a stable intrachain disulfide bond more readily.