An affinity electrophoretic method has been developed to study the state of terminal phosphorylation of RNAs and the presence of the hypermodified base Q in tRNA. It is based on the copolymerization of acryloylaminophenylboronic acid into standard polyacrylamide gels and the interaction of this derivative with free cis-diol groups present in the RNA. In the case of terminal phosphorylation, free ribose groups are present either as such, or may be introduced by enzymatic reactions specific for a particular phosphorylation pattern (e.g. using T4 RNA ligase or guanylyltransferase). Additionally, tRNA species containing the Q base may be resolved from Q-lacking tRNAs by boronate affinity electrophoresis. The introduction of a non-destructive, one-step electrophoretic procedure not only offers an alternative to classical analytical methods, but also provides a means of isolating such populations of RNAs for which other methods are unavailable or are less convenient.