X-ray powder diffraction patterns of lysozyme and insulin were recorded on a standard in-house powder diffractometer. The experimental powder diffraction patterns were compared with patterns calculated from Protein Data Bank coordinate data. Good agreement was obtained by including straightforward corrections for background, unit-cell parameters, disordered bulk solvent and geometric factors. In particular the solvent correction was found crucial for a good agreement. A revised Lorentz factor was derived, which gave a minor, but significant, improvement to the fit in the low-angle region. An attempt to include calculated H-atom positions did not improve the overall fit and was abandoned. The method devised was shown to be a quick and convenient tool for distinguishing precipitates and polymorphs of proteins.