Here we report the development of a new neural network based approach for rapid quantification of protein secondary structure from Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra of proteins. A technique for efficiently reducing the amount of spectral data by almost 90% is suggested to facilitate faster neural network analysis. Additionally, an automatic procedure is introduced for selecting only those regions within the amide I band of protein FTIR spectra, which can be best related to secondary structure contents by subsequent neural network analysis. Based on a given reference set of FTIR spectra from proteins with known secondary structure, a subset of merely 29 out of 101 amide I absorbance values could be identified, which lead to an improved prediction accuracy. The average prediction accuracy achieved for helix, sheet, turn, bend, and other is 4.96% which is better than that achieved by alternative methods that have been previously reported indicating the significant potential of this approach. Our suggested automatic amide I frequency selection procedure may be easily extended to identify promising regions from spectral data recorded by other spectroscopic techniques, like for example circular dichroism spectroscopy.