Results from a high-resolution deoxyribonuclease I (DNase I) footprinting titration procedure are described that identify preferred daunomycin binding sites within the 160 bp tyr T DNA fragment. We have obtained single-bond resolution at 65 of the 160 potential binding sites within the tyr T fragment and have examined the effect of 0-3.0 microM total daunomycin concentration on the susceptibility of these sites toward digestion by DNase I. Four types of behavior are observed: (i) protection from DNase I cleavage; (ii) protection, but only after reaching a critical total daunomycin concentration; (iii) enhanced cleavage; (iv) no effect of added drug. Ten sites were identified as the most strongly protected on the basis of the magnitude of the reduction of their digestion product band areas in the presence of daunomycin. These were identified as the preferred daunomycin binding sites. Seven of these 10 sites are found at the end of the triplet sequences 5'ATGC and 5'ATCG, where the notation AT indicates that either A or T may occupy the position. The remaining three strongly protected sites are found at the ends of the triplet sequence 5'ATCAT. Of the preferred daunomycin binding sites we identify in this study, the sequence 5'ATCG is consistent with the specificity predicted by the theoretical studies of Chen et al. [Chen, K.-X., Gresh, N., & Pullman, B. (1985) J. Biomol. Struct. Dyn. 3, 445-466] and is the very sequence to which daunomycin is observed to be bound in two recent X-ray crystallographic studies. Solution studies, theoretical studies, and crystallographic studies have thus converged to provide a consistent and coherent picture of the sequence preference of this important anticancer antibiotic.