The accuracy of secondary structure prediction methods has been improved significantly by the use of aligned protein sequences. The PHD method and the NNSSP method reach 71 to 72% of sustained overall three-state accuracy when multiple sequence alignments are with neural networks and nearest-neighbor algorithms, respectively. We introduce a variant of the nearest-neighbor approach that can achieve similar accuracy using a single sequence as the query input. We compute the 50 best non-intersecting local alignments of the query sequence with each sequence from a set of proteins with known 3D structures. Each position of the query sequence is aligned with the database amino acids in alpha-helical, beta-strand or coil states. The prediction type of secondary structure is selected as the type of aligned position with the maximal total score. On the dataset of 124 non-membrane non-homologous proteins, used earlier as a benchmark for secondary structure predictions, our method reaches an overall three-state accuracy of 71.2%. The performance accuracy is verified by an additional test on 461 non-homologous proteins giving an accuracy of 71.0%. The main strength of the method is the high level of prediction accuracy for proteins without any known homolog. Using multiple sequence alignments as input the method has a prediction accuracy of 73.5%. Prediction of secondary structure by the SSPAL method is available via Baylor College of Medicine World Wide Web server.