A combination of positive and negative ion electrospray mass spectrometry (ES-MS) together with automated Edman sequencing has been used to determine the amino acid sequences of the host-defence peptides from the skin glands of the froglet Crinia riparia. The peptides are called riparins. Of the eight peptides isolated, five are neuropeptides containing intramolecular disulfide linkages; e.g. the major peptide riparin 1.4 (FFLPPCAYKGTC-OH). Positive ion ES-MS identifies the five residues of riparin 1.4 outside the disulfide moiety, but provides no information on the sequence within the disulfide ring. In contrast, the negative ion dissociations of the [M–H] ion of riparin 1.4 identify the [BOND]S-S[BOND] link by loss of H2S2 from the [M–H] ion, and also provide the sequence within the disulfide unit. Other peptides are riparin 2.1 [(IIEKLVNTALGLLSGL-NH2), a narrow-spectrum antibiotic], signiferin 3.1 [(GIAEFLNYIKSKA-NH2), an nNOS inhibitor] and riparin 5.1 [IVSYPDDAGEHAHKMG-NH2], which shows no neuropeptide, antibiotic or nNOS activity. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.