Using the human Pin1 WW domain (hPin1 WW), we show that replacement of two nearest neighbor non-hydrogen-bonded residues on adjacent beta-strands with tryptophan (Trp) residues increases beta-sheet thermodynamic stability by 4.8 kJ mol(-1) at physiological temperature. One-dimensional NMR studies confirmed that introduction of the Trp-Trp pair does not globally perturb the structure of the triple-stranded beta-sheet, while circular dichroism studies suggest that the engineered cross-strand Trp-Trp pair adopts a side-chain conformation similar to that first reported for a designed "Trp-zipper" beta-hairpin peptide, wherein the indole side chains stack perpendicular to each other. Even though the mutated side chains in wild-type hPin1 WW are not conserved among WW domains and compose the beta-sheet surface opposite to that responsible for ligand binding, introduction of the cross-strand Trp-Trp pair effectively eliminates hPin1 WW function as assessed by the loss of binding affinity toward a natural peptide ligand. Maximizing both thermodynamic stability and the domain function of hPin1 WW by the above mentioned approach appears to be difficult, analogous to the situation with loop 1 optimization explored previously. That introduction of a non-hydrogen-bonded cross-strand Trp-Trp pair within the hPin1 WW domain eliminates function may provide a rationale for why this energetically favorable pairwise interaction has not yet been identified in WW domains or any other biologically evolved protein with known three-dimensional structure.