The synthetic peptide ziconotide (SNX-111) corresponding to the sequence of the omega-conopeptide MVIIA from the venom of the marine snail Conus magus is a highly potent and selective antagonist of N-type calcium channels. The authors have synthesized and characterized a large number of analogs of SNX-111 in order to elucidate the structural features of the peptide involved in blocking N-type calcium channels. Comparison of the binding of SNX-111 and its analogs to rat brain synaptosomal membranes rich in N-type channels revealed that, among the four lysines and two arginines in the molecule, lysine in position 2 and arginines at position 10 and 21 are important for the interaction of SNX-111 with N-type channels. The importance of the middle segment from residues 9 through 14 for this binding interaction was revealed by substitution of the individual residues as well as by the construction of hybrid peptides in which the residues 9-12 in SNX-111 and another conopeptide, SNX-183, corresponding to a peptide SVIB from Conus striatus, were interchanged. Introduction of the sequence SRLM from SNX-111 in place of RKTS in position 9-12 in SNX-183 resulted in a 38-fold increase in affinity.