Hedamycin forms a stable complex with DNA and introduces alkali labile linkages in the DNA. These labile linkages are located at deoxyguanosine residues and are cleaved by the treatment used for breakage at bases alkylated by dimethyl sulfate. The reaction of hedamycin with all G residues in the chain is not uniform, and certain positions, particularily those in TG tracts, are especially reactive. The reaction of hedamycin with DNA can be inhibited by ethidium bromide, suggesting that intercalation is important in positioning the reactive group of hedamycin near to the base which is modified. The low amount of hedamycin needed to produce observable breakage, its specificity for reaction with DNA and its ability to react with DNA under mild conditions make it suitable for use as a probe of protein-DNA complexes. This was shown by the ability of lac repressor and RNA polymerase to block reaction of hedamycin with the DNA of the lac regulatory region.