Pyrazines are specific Maillard reaction compounds known to contribute to the unique aroma of many products. Most studies concerning the generation of pyrazines in the Maillard reaction have focused on amino acids, while little information is available on the impact of peptides and proteins. The present study investigated the generation of pyrazines in model systems containing whey protein, hydrolyzed whey protein, amino acids, and glucose. The impact of thermal conditions, ratio of reagents, and water activity (a(w)) on pyrazine formation was measured by headspace solid-phase microextraction with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC/MS. The presence of oligopeptides from hydrolyzed whey protein contributed significantly to an increased amount of pyrazines, while in contrast free amino acids generated during protein hydrolysis contributed to a lesser extent. The generation of pyrazines was enhanced at low a(w) (0.33) and high temperatures (>120 °C). This study showed that the role of peptides in the generation of pyrazines in Maillard reaction systems has been dramatically underestimated.