The question whether peptides can fulfill functions for which nature utilizes large macromolecules is an overarching theme of the research in the Wennemers laboratory. The Zervas Award Lecture summarized our research on the development of peptides as asymmetric catalysts and templates for the controlled formation of silver nanoparticles. Tripeptides of the general type Pro-Pro-Xaa (Xaa = acidic amino acid) were presented that effectively catalyze aldol and conjugate addition reactions. These peptides are not only highly active, robust, and stereoselective catalysts but have also remarkable chemoselectivities. In the second part, short peptides that allow for the generation of silver nanoparticles in distinctly different sizes were presented. Copyright © 2012 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.