Abstract: In an earlier study using Caco-2 cells, an in vitro cell culture model of the intestinal mucosa, we have shown that the acyloxyalkoxy-based cyclic prodrugs 3 and 4 of the opioid peptides [Leu5]-enkephalin(1, H-Tyr-GLY-Gly-Phe-Leu-OH) and DADLE(2, H-Tyr-d-Ala-Gly-Phe-d-Leu-OH), respectively, were substrates for apically polarized efflux systems and therefore less able to permeate the cell monolayers than were the opioid peptides themselves. In an attempt to explain how structure may influence the recognition of these cyclic prodrugs as substrates by the apically polarized efflux systems, we have determined the possible solution conformations of 3 and 4 using spectroscopic techniques (2D-NMR, CD) and molecular dynamics simulations. Spectroscopic as well as computational studies indicate that cyclic prodrug 4 exhibits a major and a minor conformer in a ratio of 3 : 2 where both conformers exhibit γ and β-turn structures. Spectroscopic, as well as molecular dynamics, studies indicate that the difference between the two conformers involves a cis/trans inversion occurring at the amide bond between the promoiety and Tyr1. The major conformer has a trans amide bond between the promoiety and Tyr1, whereas the minor conformer has a cis amide bond. The spectroscopic data indicate that cyclic prodrug 3 has a structure similar to that of the major conformer in cyclic prodrug 4. It has recently been reported that a particular arrangement of polar groups and spatial separation distances is required for substrate recognition by P-glycoprotein. When the conformation of the acyloxyalkoxy linker was investigated in the major and minor conformers of cyclic prodrug 4, with respect to distances between the polar functional groups, this ideal fixed spatial orientation was observed. Interestingly this same spatial orientation of polar functional groups was not observed for other cyclic prodrugs prepared by our laboratory using different chemical linkers (coumarinic acid and phenylpropionic acid) but the same opioid peptides that had previously been shown not to be substrates for the apically polarized efflux systems. Therefore, we hypothesize that the structure and/or the flexibility of the acyloxyalkoxy linker itself allows cyclic prodrugs 3 and 4 to adopt conformations that permit ideal arrangement of polar groups in the linker and their fixed spatial orientation. This possibly induces the substrate activity of cyclic prodrugs 3 and 4 for the apically polarized efflux systems.