We have synthesized a series of non-macrocyclic ligands to FKBP12 that are comparable in binding potency and peptidyl prolyl isomerase (PPIase) inhibition to FK506 itself. We have also solved the structure of one of these ligands in complex with FKBP12, and have compared that structure to the FK506-FKBP12 complex. Consistent with the observed inhibitory equipotency of these compounds, we observe a strong similarity in the conformation of the two ligands in the region of the protein that mediates PPIase activity. Our compounds, however, are not immunosuppressive. In the FKBP12-FK506 complex, a significant portion of the FK506 ligand, its 'effector domain', projects beyond the envelope of the binding protein in a manner that is suggestive of a potential interaction with a second protein, the calcium-dependent phosphatase, calcineurin, whose inhibition by the FKBP 12-FK506 complex interrupts the T-cell activation events leading to immunosuppression. In contrast, our compounds bind within the surface envelope of FKBP12, and induce significant changes in the structure of the FKBP12 protein which may also affect calcineurin binding indirectly.