A systematic comparison is made between experimental and computational data gained on vicinal disulfide bridges in proteins and peptides. Structural and stability data of ab initio and density functional theory (DFT) calculations on the model compound 4,5-ditiaheptano-7-lactam and the model peptide HCOox-[CysCys]NH2 at RHF/3-21G*, B3LYP/6-31+G(d), and B3LYP/6-311++G(d,p) levels of theory are presented. The data on XxxCysCysYyy type amino acid sequence units retrieved from PDB SELECT, along with data on sequence units that have vicinal disulfide bridge, taken from the Brookhaven Protein Data Bank, are conformationally characterized. Amino acid backbone conformations, cis-trans isomerism of the amide bond between the two cysteine residues, and ring puckering are studied. Ring puckers are characterized by their relation to the conformers of the parent 4,5-ditiaheptano-7-lactam. Computational precision and accuracy are proved by frequency calculation and solvent model optimization on selected conformers. It is found that the ox-[CysCys] unit is able to accept types I, II, VIa, VIb, and VIII β-turn structures. Proteins 2004. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.