Nonenzymatic ligation of double-stranded DNA has been performed using an alternate-strand binding oligodeoxyribonucleotide template to juxtapose the duplex termini in a triple helical complex. The template associates with the duplex termini by Hoogsteen hydrogen bonding to alternate strands on opposite sides of the ligation site. Intermolecular and intramolecular ligation of linearized plasmid DNA are observed in the reaction, which depends on the template oligodeoxyribonucleotide and a condensing agent, N-cyanoimidazole. Intramolecular ligation products include those in which both strands are covalently closed in a circle. Ligation of the two strands is sequential and occurs at comparable rates for the first and second strands ligating. The covalent linkages formed in the reaction can be cleaved by the restriction endonuclease Stu I, supporting their identification as phosphodiesters.