An antibody generated to an alpha-keto amide containing hapten 1 catalyzes the cis-trans isomerization of peptidyl-prolyl amide bonds in peptides and in the protein RNase T1. The antibody-catalyzed peptide isomerization reaction showed saturation kinetics for the cis-substrate, Suc-Ala-Ala-Pro-Phe-pNA, with a kcat/Km value of 883 s-1.M-1; the reaction was inhibited by the hapten analog 13 (Ki = 3. 0 +/- 0.4 microM). Refolding of denatured RNase T1 to its native conformation also was catalyzed by the antibody, with the antibody-catalyzed folding reaction inhibitable both by the hapten 1 and hapten analog 13. These results demonstrate that antibodies can catalyze conformational changes in protein structure, a transformation involved in many cellular processes.