A major problem in the determination of the three-dimensional structure of proteins concerns the quality of the structural models obtained from the interpretation of experimental data. New developments in X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy have acceleratedd the process of structure determination and the biological community is confronted with a steadily increasing number of experimentally determined protein folds. However, in the recent past several experimentally determined protein structures have been proven to contain major errors, indicating that in some cases the interpretation of experimental data is difficult and may yield incorrect models. Such problems can be avoided when computational methods are employed which complement experimental structure determinations. A prerequisite of such computational tools is that they are independent of the parameters obtained from a particular experiment. In addition such techniques are able to support and accelerate experimental structure determinations. Here we present techniques based on knowledge based mean fields which can be used to judge the quality of protein folds. The methods can be used to identify misfolded structures as well as faulty parts of structural models. The techniques are even applicable in cases where only the Cα trace of a protein conformation is available. The capabilities of the technique are demonstrated using correct and incorrect protein folds. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.