We have investigated the efficiency with which PtII complexes cross-link phosphorothioates of oligonucleotides to complementary DNA targets. The A and G residues 2-5 bases downstream from the 5'-phosphorothioate group are preferred sites for cross-linking. Replacement of residues in this part of the target by T residues results in greatly decreased cross-linking when cis platinum diammine dichloride (cisPtII) or potassium platinous chloride (K2PtCl4) are used. Trans platinum diammine dichloride (transPtII) forms cross-links with T residues if A and G residues are absent from the susceptible region of the target. Oligomers containing an internal phosphorothioate group can also be linked to their templates with transPtII, but not with cisPtII or K2PtCl4. Cross-linking via an internal phosphorothioate group tends to be less efficient than cross-linking via a 5'-terminal phosphorothioate. The Sp isomers of internal phosphorothioates are cross-linked more efficiently than the Rp isomers. Preliminary experiments suggest that the efficiency of cross-linking to RNA targets will prove similar to that found for DNA targets.