A technique for prediction of protein membrane topology (intra- and extracellular sidedness) has been developed. Membrane-spanning segments are first predicted using an algorithm based upon multiply aligned amino acid sequences. The compositional differences in the protein segments exposed at each side of the membrane are then investigated. The ratios are calculated for Asn, Asp, Gly, Phe, Pro, Trp, Tyr, and Val, mostly found on the extracellular side, and for Ala, Arg, Cys, and Lys, mostly occurring on the intracellular side. The consensus over these 12 residue distributions is used for sidedness prediction. The method was developed with a set of 42 protein families for which all but one were correctly predicted with the new algorithm. This represents an improvement over previous techniques. The new method, applied to a set of 12 membrane protein families different from the test set and with recently determined topologies, performed well, with 11 of 12 sidedness assignments agreeing with experimental results. The method has also been applied to several membrane protein families for which the topology has yet to be determined. An electronic prediction service is available at the E-mail address email@example.com and on WWW via http://www.embl-heidelberg.de.