In the last years polyproline II (PPII) structure has been demonstrated to be essential to biological activities such as signal transduction, transcription, cell motility, and immune response. The polyproline left-handed helical structure was nearly unknown until now and often confused with unordered, disordered, irregular, unstructured, extended, or random coil conformations because it is neither α-helical nor β-turn nor β-sheet, i.e., a classical structure. In spite of the regularity of the PPII structure and, more precisely, its well-defined dihedral angle values, a typical feature of PPII structure is the absence of any intramolecular hydrogen bonds that renders the PPII structure indistinguishable from an irregular backbone structure by 1H-NMR spectroscopy. The only way to unambiguously reveal PPII structure in solution is to use spectroscopies based on optical activity, such as circular dichroism (CD), vibrational circular dichroism (VCD), and Raman optical activity (ROA). Herein we focus on the identification of PPII structure by CD, widely considered to be the most reliable methodology. Then we report on VCD and ROA spectroscopies as tools in the identification of PPII structure. A third section is dedicated to the analysis of the stabilization of PPII conformation in aqueous solution. Finally, the significance of PPII in self-assembly processes, in elasticity of elastomeric proteins, and in proteins-(peptides) proteins molecular recognition processes are considered. Chirality 14:782–792, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.