The 81-residue multifunctional prodomain of human furin adopts only a partially-folded conformational state under near physiological conditions. By use of NMR spectroscopy, we demonstrate that the N-terminal residues 1-46 of the prodomain in 50% trifluoroethanol (TFE) populates backbone conformations containing a short helix, a beta-strand and a helix-loop-helix super-secondary structure with elements of tertiary interactions. (15)N NMR relaxation measurements indicate that the helix-loop-helix region has similar motional characteristics in the fast picosecond to nanosecond timescales. On the other hand, the intervening segment (residues 47-65) is predominantly unstructured with a long and highly flexible region surrounding the protease 'activation loop' followed by a partially helical segment in the C-terminal end. Interestingly, the helix-loop-helix 'fold' was found to be populated even when excised out of the full-length prodomain, since a peptide fragment derived from residues Pro16-Arg49 can also form the helix-loop-helix structure in aqueous solution in the absence of TFE. Structure analyses reveal that two helices orient in an antiparallel fashion directed by the sharing of hydrophobic residues involved in helix-capping interactions. Very importantly, a positively-charged Lys residue replacing His43 in the 16-49 fragment imparts stability to the super-secondary structure at both acidic and neutral pH, while a hydrophobic residue Leu at position 43 appears to destabilize the helical conformation in the 31-44 region. As such, this study provides valuable insights into the structural properties of the furin prodomain in relation to its role in the folding of the furin zymogen and its inhibitory action toward furin.