In just a few short years, the chemical ligation of unprotected peptide segments in aqueous solution has established itself as the most practical method for the total synthesis of native proteins. A wide range of proteins has been prepared. These synthetic molecules have led to the elucidation of gene function, to the discovery of novel biology, and to the determination of new three-dimensional protein structures by both NMR and X-ray crystallography. The facile access to novel analogs provided by chemical protein synthesis has led to original insights into the molecular basis of protein function in a number of systems. Chemical protein synthesis has also enabled the systematic development of proteins with enhanced potency and specificity as candidate therapeutic agents.