We have synthesized four oligopeptides that are structural analogues of a low-affinity Ca2+-specific binding site (site II) of rabbit skeletal troponin C. One analogue (peptide 3) was a dodecapeptide with a sequence corresponding to the 12-residue Ca2+-binding loop (residues 63-74 in troponin C), two (peptides 4 and 5) were 23-residue in length, corresponding to residues 52-74 of the protein, and the fourth (peptide 6) was a 25-residue peptide corresponding to residues 50-74. All four peptides had one amino acid substitution within the 12-residue binding loop in which phenylalanine at position 10 was replaced by tyrosine to provide a marker for spectroscopic studies. In addition, peptides 3 and 4 each had a second substitution within the binding loop where glycine at position 6 was replaced by alanine. The second substitution was motivated by the conservation of glycine at the position in the Ca2+-binding loops of all four Ca2+-binding sites in troponin C. The peptides were characterized by their intrinsic fluorescence, ability to enhance the emission of bound Tb3+, affinity for Ca2+ and Tb3+, and circular dichroism. The affinity for Ca2+ was in the range 10-10(2) M-1, and the affinity for Tb3+ was in the range 10(4)-10(5) M-1. The binding constants of the longer peptides were several-fold larger than that of the dodecapeptide. With peptides 4 and 5, substitution of glycine by alanine at position 6 within the 12-residue loop decreased the affinity for Ca2+ by a factor of four, but had little effect on the affinity for Tb3+. However, the mean residue ellipticity of peptide 4 was substantially higher than that of peptide 5. Since peptide 4 differs from peptide 5 only in the substitution of glycine at position 6 in the loop segment, the conservation of glycine at that position may serve a role in providing a suitable secondary structure of the binding sites for interaction with troponin I. Peptides 4 and 6, when present in a large excess, mimic troponin C in regulating fully reconstituted actomyosin ATPase by showing partial calcium sensitivity and activation of the ATPase. Since these peptides are the smallest peptides containing the Ca2+-binding loop of site II, their biological activity suggests that a Ca2+-dependent binding site of troponin C for troponin I could be as short as the segment comprising residues 52-62.