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To generate coarse electrostatic models of proteins, we developed an original approach to hierarchically locate maxima and minima in smoothed molecular electrostatic potentials. A charge-fitting program was used to assign charges to the so-obtained reduced representations. Templates are defined to easily generate coarse point charge models for protein structures, in the particular cases of the Amber99 and Gromos43A1 force fields. Applications to four small peptides and to the ion channel KcsA are presented. Electrostatic potential values generated by the reduced models are compared with the corresponding values obtained using the original sets of atomic charges.