Gene expression can be altered by small molecules that target DNA; sequence as well as shape selectivities are both extremely important for DNA recognition by intercalating and groove-binding ligands. We have characterized a carbohydrate scaffold (1) exhibiting DNA “shape readout” properties. Thermodynamic studies with 1 and model duplex DNAs demonstrate the molecule's high affinity and selectivity towards B* form (continuous AT-rich) DNA. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), circular dichroism (CD) titration, ultraviolet (UV) thermal denaturation, and Differential Scanning Calorimetry were used to characterize the binding of 1 with a B* form AT-rich DNA duplex d[5′-G2A6T6C2-3′]. The binding constant was determined using ITC at various temperatures, salt concentrations, and pH. ITC titrations were fit using a two-binding site model. The first binding event was shown to have a 1:1 binding stoichiometry and was predominantly entropy-driven with a binding constant of approximately 108 M−1. ITC-derived binding enthalpies were used to obtain the binding-induced change in heat capacity (ΔCp) of −225 ± 19 cal/mol·K. The ionic strength dependence of the binding constant indicated a significant electrolytic contribution in ligand:DNA binding, with approximately four to five ion pairs involved in binding. Ligand 1 displayed a significantly higher affinity towards AT-tract DNA over sequences containing GC inserts, and binding experiments revealed the order of binding affinity for 1 with DNA duplexes: contiguous B* form AT-rich DNA (d[5′-G2A6T6C2-3′]) >B form alternate AT-rich DNA (d[5′-G2(AT)6C2-3′]) > A form GC-rich DNA (d[5′-A2G6C6T2-3′]), demonstrating the preference of ligand 1 for B* form DNA. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 101: 720–732, 2014.