To fully explore the substrate specificities of prolyl isomerases, we synthesized a library of 20 tetrapeptides that are labeled with a 2-aminobenzoyl (Abz) group at the amino terminus and a p-nitroanilide (pNA) group at the carboxy terminus. In this peptide library of the general formula Abz-Ala-Xaa-Pro-Phe-pNA, the position Xaa before the proline is occupied by all 20 proteinogenic amino acids. A conformational analysis of the peptide by molecular dynamics simulations and byNMRspectroscopy showed that the mutual distance between the Abz and pNA moieties in the peptides depends on the isomeric state of the Xaa-Pro bond. In the cis, but not in the trans form, there are significant chemical shift changes of the Abz and pNA moieties, because their aromatic rings are close to each other. This proximity also leads to a strong quenching of Abz fluorescence, which, in combination with a solvent jump, was used to devise a sensitive assay for prolyl isomerases. Unlike the traditional assay, it is not coupled with peptide proteolysis and thus can be employed for protease-sensitive prolyl isomerases as well. The peptide library was used to provide a complete set of P1-site specificities for prototypic human members of the three prolyl isomerase families, FKBP12, cyclophilin 18, and parvulin 14. In a second application, the substrate specificity of SlyD, a protease-sensitive prolyl isomerase from Escherichia coli, was characterized and compared with that of human FKBP12 as well as with homologues from other bacteria. © 2009 American Chemical Society.