Abstract As an important nucleobase in RNA, uracil was introduced into the side chain of cyclen (1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane) by using phenylene dimethylene group as bridge. The target compounds 5 were obtained in high yields. Subsequent experiments demonstrated that the uracil–cyclen conjugates can bind Zn 2+ cation rapidly in water, and the catalytic activities of their Zn(II) complexes 6 in DNA cleavage were also studied. The results showed that Zn(II) complexes can catalyze the cleavage of supercoiled DNA (pUC 19 plasmid DNA) (Form I) to produce nicked DNA (Form II and Form III) with high selectivity. In water solution, complex 6b may form a unique and stable supramolecular structure, which benefits the DNA cleavage process.