Some linear truncated analogs of endothelin-1 display potent agonistic activity at the ET(B) receptor, especially when the side chain of Trp21 is N-formylated. Then, the three-dimensional arrangements of six structurally reduced linear analogs, three formylated and three nonformylated, have been investigated by high resolution NMR spectroscopy and molecular modeling, in order to pinpoint the conformational features related to the biological activity. Two-dimensional double-quantum-filtered correlation spectroscopy (DQFCOSY), total correlation spectroscopy (TOCSY) and nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectroscopy (NOESY) were recorded and analyzed for each molecule. Interspatial distance constraints were derived from the intensity of the NOESY connectivities. The formation of hydrogen bonding was monitored from the temperature dependence of the NH chemical shifts. Molecular models calculated by means of distance geometry, simulated annealing and energy minimization, using the NMR constraints, strongly suggested a global elongated structure for the formylated analogs exhibiting biological activity, and a folded arrangement for the unformylated derivatives. Homology comparisons allowed the identification of a beta-turn-like folding of the C-terminal segment Asp18-Trp21 as a probable key-factor for activity.