The solution properties, secondary structure and global fold of the 27-residue polypeptide neurotoxin III (ATX III), from the sea anemone Anemonia sulcata, have been investigated using high-resolution 1H-n.m.r. spectroscopy. Studies of the concentration dependence of the n.m.r. spectrum indicate that the molecule self-associates in the millimolar concentration range useable for n.m.r. analysis, the association being less pronounced at acidic pH values. The dependence on pH of association implies that electrostatic interactions play a role in this process, while the significant concentration-dependent shifts of the aromatic resonances of Tyr-7 and Trp-13 indicate that hydrophobic interactions also contribute. Individual pK(a) values have been determined for most ionizable groups in the molecule. Sequence specific resonance assignments were obtained for all protons using a range of two-dimensional homonuclear-correlated and nuclear-Overhauser-effect (nOe) spectra. The secondary structure of the polypeptide was identified from sequential (i, i+ 1) and medium-range (i, i+2/3/4) nOe connectivities, NH to C(α)H coupling constants, C(α)H chemical shifts, and the location of slowly exchanging backbone-amide protons. ATX III contains no regular α-helix or β-sheet, consisting instead of a network of reverse turns. nOe conectivities between half-cystine residues are consistent with the disulphide pairings 3-17, 4-11 and 6-22. ATX III has a well-defined structure and appears to lack the disordered loop which, in the longer sea anemone toxins (46-49 residues), may be part of the receptor-binding surface.