Myoglobin has been studied extensively as a paradigm for protein folding. As part of an ongoing study of potential folding initiation sites in myoglobin, we have synthetized a series of peptides covering the entire sequence of sperm whale myoglobin. We report here on the conformation preferences of a series of peptides that cover the region from the A helix to the FG turn. Structural propensities were determined using circular dichroism and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in aqueous solution, trifluoroethanol, and methanol. Peptides corresponding to helical regions in the native protein, namely the B, C, D, and E helices, populate the alpha region of (phi, psi) space in water solution but show no measurable helix formation except in the presence of trifluoroethanol. The F-helix sequence has a much lower propensity to populate helical conformations even in TFE. Despite several attempts, we were not successful in synthesizing a peptide corresponding to the A-helix region that was soluble in water. A peptide termed the AB domain was constructed spanning the A- and B-helix sequences. The AB domain is not soluble in water, but shows extensive helix formation throughout the peptide when dissolved in methanol, with a break in the helix at a site close to the A-B helix junction in the intact folded myoglobin protein. With the exception of one local preference for a turn conformation stabilized by hydrophobic interactions, the peptides corresponding to turns in the folded protein do not measurably populate beta-turn conformations in water, and the addition of trifluoroethanol does not enhance the formation of either helical or turn structure. In contrast to the series of peptides described here, either studies of peptides from the GH region of myoglobin show a marked tendency to populate helical structures (H), nascent helical structures (G), or turn conformations (GH peptide) in water solution. This region, together with the A-helix and part of the B-helix, has been shown to participate in an early folding intermediate. The complete analysis of conformational properties of isolated myoglobin peptides supports the hypothesis that spontaneous secondary structure formation in local regions of the polypeptide may play an important role in the initiation of protein folding.