Abstract Cooling the samples allowed us to characterize solid oligonucleotides such as dimers, trimers and pentamers of cytidine, for the first time, in the IR range of the out-of-plane bending molecular modes (1000–400 cm −1) at 20 K. Especially interesting are the narrow IR bands of the out-of-plane bending ν 4 NH 2 proton mode, which are apparently invisible at room temperature. This unequivocally defined and well-resolved NH 2 bending band should provide important information on the exact chemical form and hydrogen bonding interactions of cytidine amine groups. As such, this unique IR spectroscopy is suggested as a practical analytical tool to validate and characterize synthetic DNA bases and oligonucleotides. Using an approach of this type it was found that desalted oligonucleotide samples of the same nominal composition, but which had been produced by three different manufacturers, differ significantly in their IR spectra. These data suggest that the presumably identical oligonucleotides are in fact different, at least with respect to the content and nature of their NH protons.