We have developed a method to study the primary sequence specificities of protein kinases by using an oriented degenerate peptide library. We report here the substrate specificities of eight protein Ser/Thr kinases. All of the kinases studied selected distinct optimal substrates. The identified substrate specificities of these kinases, together with known crystal structures of protein kinase A, CDK2, Erk2, twitchin, and casein kinase I, provide a structural basis for the substrate recognition of protein Ser/Thr kinases. In particular, the specific selection of amino acids at the +1 and -3 positions to the substrate serine/threonine can be rationalized on the basis of sequences of protein kinases. The identification of optimal peptide substrates of CDK5, casein kinases I and II, NIMA, calmodulin-dependent kinases, Erk1, and phosphorylase kinase makes it possible to predict the potential in vivo targets of these kinases.