Differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF) is a rapid and inexpensive screening method to identify low-molecular-weight ligands that bind and stabilize purified proteins. The temperature at which a protein unfolds is measured by an increase in the fluorescence of a dye with affinity for hydrophobic parts of the protein, which are exposed as the protein unfolds. A simple fitting procedure allows quick calculation of the transition midpoint; the difference in the temperature of this midpoint in the presence and absence of ligand is related to the binding affinity of the small molecule, which can be a low-molecular-weight compound, a peptide or a nucleic acid. DSF is best performed using a conventional real-time PCR instrument. Ligand solutions from a storage plate are added to a solution of protein and dye, distributed into the wells of the PCR plate and fluorescence intensity measured as the temperature is raised gradually. Results can be obtained in a single day.