Self-assembled monolayers of biomolecules on atomically planar surfaces offer the prospect of complex combinations of controlled properties, e. g., for bioelectronics. We have prepared a novel hemi-4-alpha-helix bundle protein by attaching two alpha-helical peptides to a cyclo-dithiothreitol (cyclo-DTT) template. The protein was de novo designed to self-assemble in solution to form a 4-alpha-helix bundle, whereas the disulfide moiety enables the formation of a self-assembled monolayer on a Au(111) surface by opening of the disulfide, thus giving rise to a two-step self-assembly process. The 2 x 2-alpha-helix bundle protein and its template were studied by X-ray photo electron spectroscopy (XPS), electrochemical methods, and electrochemical in situ scanning tunneling microscopy (in situ STM). XPS showed that the cyclo-DTT opens on adsorption to a gold surface with the integrity of the 2 x 2- R-helix bundle proteins retained. The surface properties of the DTT and 2 x 2- R-helix bundle protein adlayer were characterized by interfacial capacitance and impedance techniques. Reductive desorption was used to determine the coverage of the adlayers, giving values of 65 and 16 mu C cm(-2) for DTT and 2 x 2-helix, respectively. The 2 x 2-alpha-helix bundle protein adlayers were imaged by in situ STM. The images indicated a dense monolayer according with the voltammetric data. No long-range order could be detected, but two clearly distinct STM contrasts were assigned to 2 x 2-alpha-helix bundle protein molecules oriented in parallel and antiparallel conformations. The template molecule DTT alone forms highly ordered 30-40 nm domains, giving an adlayer density which agreed well with the coverage determined by voltammetry. This could be exploited in STM imaging of mixed DTT/2 x 2-alpha-helix bundle protein monolayers, with clearly distinct STM patterns of the two components.