The separation of lanthanides from minor actinides such as americium and curium is an important step during the recycling process in the treatment of nuclear waste. However, the similar chemistry and ionic size of lanthanide and actinide ions make the separation challenging. Here, we report that a peptide-based reagent can selectively bind trivalent actinides over trivalent lanthanides by means of introducing soft-donor atoms into a peptide known as a lanthanide-binding tag (LBT). Fluorescence spectroscopy has been used to measure the dissociation constant of each metal/peptide complex. A 10-fold selectivity was obtained for Am3+ over the similarly sized lanthanide cation, Nd3+, when the asparagine on the fifth position of a LBT was mutated to a cysteine and further functionalized by a pyridine moiety.