The isolated activation segment of pig procarboxypeptidase A binds two Tb3+ ions in a strong and specific way. In contrast, the binding of Ca2+, Cd2+ and Mg2+ is weak. The binding of Tb3+ increases the resistance of the isolated activation segment against proteolysis and competes for the binding of the carbocyanine dye Stains-A11. This dye forms complexes with the activation segment showing spectral properties similar to those observed with EF-hand structures. The presented results support a previous hypothesis on the existence of two regions in the activation segment of pancreatic procarboxypeptidases structurally related to Ca2+-binding domains of the EF-hand protein family.