The conformational preferences of the N-acetyl-N′-methylamide derivatives of the four octahydroindole-2-carboxylic acid (Oic) stereoisomers have been investigated in the gas-phase and in aqueous solution using quantum mechanical calculations. In addition to the conformational effects provoked by the stereochemical diversity of Oic, which presents three chiral centers, results provide evidence of interesting and rather unusual features. The conformational preferences of the Oic stereoisomers in solution are only well described by applying a complete and systematic search process, results achieved by simple re-optimization of the gas-phase minima being very imprecise. This is because the conformational rigidity detected in the gas-phase, which is imposed by the chemical restrictions of the fused bicyclic skeleton, disappears in aqueous solution, the four stereoisomers behaving as flexible molecules in this environment. Thus, in general, the γ-turn is the only minimum energy conformation in the gas-phase while in aqueous solution the helical, polyproline-II and γ-turn motifs are energetically favored. Molecular dynamics simulations indicate that the conformational flexibility predicted by quantum mechanical calculations for the four Oic stereoisomers in solution is satisfactorily reproduced by classical force-fields. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers (Pept Sci) 102: 176–190, 2014.