The three-dimensional structure of recombinant desulfatohirudin in aqueous solution was determined by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance at 600 MHz and distance geometry calculations with the program DISMAN. The input for the structure calculations was prepared on the basis of complete sequence-specific resonance assignments at pH 4.5 and 22 degrees C and consisted of 425 distance constraints from nuclear Overhauser enhancements and 159 supplementary constraints from spin-spin coupling constants and from the identification of intramolecular hydrogen bonds. Residues 3-30 and 37-48 form a molecular core with two antiparallel beta-sheets and several well-defined turns. The three disulfide bonds 6-14, 16-28, and 22-39 were identified by NMR. In contrast to this well-defined molecular core, with an average root mean square distance for the polypeptide backbone of 0.8 A for a group of nine DISMAN solutions, no preferred conformation was found for the C-terminal segment 49-65, and a loop consisting of residues 31-36 is not uniquely constrained by the NMR data either. These structural properties of recombinant desulfatohirudin coincide closely with the previously described solution conformation of natural hirudin, but the presence of localized differences is indicated by chemical shift differences for residues Asp 5, Ser 9, Leu 15, Asp 53, Gly 54, and Asp 55.