The interaction between a novel aromatic thiolato derivative from the family of DNA-intercalating platinum complexes, phenylthiolato-(2,2′,2″-terpyridine)platinum(II)-[PhS(ter py)Pt+], and nucleic acids was studied by using viscosity, equilibrium-dialysis and kinetic measurements. Viscosity measurements with sonicated DNA provide direct evidence for intercalation, and show that at binding ratios below 0.2 molecules per base-pair PhS(terpy)Pt+ causes an increase in contour length of 0.2 nm per bound molecule. However, helix extension diminishes at greater extents of binding, indicating the existence of additional, non-intercalated, externally bound forms of the ligand. The ability of PhS(terpy)Pt+ to aggregate in neutral aqueous buffers at a range of ionic strengths and temperatures was assessed by using optical-absorption methods. Scatchard plots for binding to calf thymus DNA at ionic strength 0.01 (corrected for dimerization) are curvilinear, concave upward, providing further evidence for two modes of binding. The association constant decreases at higher ionic strengths, in accord with the expectations of polyelectrolyte theory, although the number of cations released per bound unipositive ligand molecule is substantially greater than 1. Stopped-flow kinetic measurements confirm the complexity of the binding reaction by revealing multiple bound forms of the ligand whose kinetic processes are both fast and closely coupled. Thermal denaturation of DNA radically alters the shapes of binding isotherms and either has little effect on, or enhances, the affinity of potential binding sites, depending on experimental conditions. Scatchard plots for binding to natural DNA species with differing nucleotide composition show that the ligand has a requirement for a single G X C base-pair at the highest-affinity intercalation sites.