Fourth derivative spectrophotometry has been applied to monitor conformational isomerizations of polynucleotides for the first time. The transitions studied have been the B-A and A-X isomerizations of poly(dA-dT) and the B-X one of poly(amino2dA-dT). Parameters obtained from the fourth derivative spectra have been used to follow these conformational changes. The A form of poly(dA-dT) has been characterized by a new fourth derivative peak at 293.0 nm which can be associated to interstrand adenine-adenine interactions. Furthermore, some of the fourth derivative peaks in the long wavelength region (270-310 nm) can be related to stacking interactions present in the polynucleotide double helices. The tentative assignment of these peaks, particularly that at 299.0 nm in the derivative spectra of poly(amino2dA-dT), to n→π* electronic transitions is discussed. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.