Unambiguous characterization of 5-substituted-4-thiopyrimidine nucleosides (ribonucleosides and 2'-deoxynucleosides) was performed using NMR spectroscopy. Assignments of all proton and carbon signals of 5-bromo-4-thiouridine and related nucleosides were systematically carried out and firmly established by COSY and HMQC techniques. The NMR data of various 4-thiopyrimidine nucleosides are compared, and the key contributing factors discussed. The approach presented here is applicable to other modified nucleosides and nucleotides, as well as nucleobases. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.