There is currently great interest in the development of methods to modulate the function of diverse classes of target proteins with chemicals (agonists or antagonists). These would be valuable reagents for biomedical research and some might serve as potential drug leads. Traditionally, most chemicals that modulate protein function have been enzyme inhibitors isolated in functional screens specific for the enzyme of interest. However, recent efforts from many laboratories have suggested that relatively simple binding assays may provide a more convenient and general route to chemical modulators. We review here this work with a particular emphasis on peptide modulators.