2-Naphthalenesulfonic acid (4-hydroxy-7-[[[[5-hydroxy-6-[(4 cinnamylphenyl)azo]-7-sulfo-2-naphthalenyl]amino]-carbonyl]amino]-3-[(4-cinnamylphenyl)]azo (KM-1)) is a novel non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) that was designed to bind at an unconventional site on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase (RT) (Skillman, A. G., Maurer, K. W., Roe, D. C., Stauber, M. J., Eargle, D., Ewing, T. J., Muscate, A., Davioud-Charvet, E., Medaglia, M. V., Fisher, R. J., Arnold, E., Gao, H. Q., Buckheit, R., Boyer, P. L., Hughes, S. H., Kuntz, I. D., and Kenyon, G. L. (2002) Bioorg. Chem. 30, 443-458). We have investigated the mechanism by which KM-1 inhibits wild-type human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RT by using pre-steady state kinetic methods to examine the effect of KM-1 on the parameters governing the single nucleotide incorporation catalyzed by RT. Analysis of the pre-steady-state burst phase of dATP incorporation showed that KM-1 decreased the amplitude of the reaction as previously shown for other NNRTIs, because of the slow equilibration of the inhibitor with RT. In the ternary enzyme-DNA-KM-1 complex (E-DNA-I), incorporation of the next nucleotide onto the primer is blocked. However, unlike conventional NNRTIs, the inhibitory effect was caused primarily by weakening the DNA binding affinity and displacing DNA from the enzyme. Wild-type RT binds a 25/45-mer DNA duplex with an apparent K(d) of 3 nm, which was increased to 400 nm upon saturation with KM-1. Likewise, the apparent K(d) for KM-1 binding to RT increased at higher DNA concentrations. We therefore conclude that KM-1 represents a new class of inhibitor distinct from nevirapine and related NNRTIs. KM-1 can bind to RT in both the absence and presence of DNA but weakens the affinity for DNA 140-fold so that it favors DNA dissociation. The data suggest that KM-1 distorts RT conformation and misaligns DNA at the active site.