We recently developed the Rosetta algorithm for ab initio protein structure prediction, which generates protein structures from fragment libraries using simulated annealing. The scoring function in this algorithm favors the assembly of strands into sheets. However, it does not discriminate between different sheet motifs. After generating many structures using Rosetta, we found that the folding algorithm predominantly generates very local structures. We surveyed the distribution of β-sheet motifs with two edge strands (open sheets) in a large set of non-homologous proteins. We investigated how much of that distribution can be accounted for by rules previously published in the literature, and developed a filter and a scoring method that enables us to improve protein structure prediction for β-sheet proteins. Proteins 2002;48:85–97. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.