The solution structure of the self-complementary DNA decamer 5'd(CTGGATCCAG)2 comprising the specific target site for the restriction endonuclease BamH1 is investigated by using nuclear magnetic resonance sectroscopy and restrained molecular dynamics. With the exception of the H5'/H5" sugar proton resonances, all the nonexchangeable proton resonances are assigned sequentially by using pure-phase absorption two-dimensional nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectroscopy. From the time dependence of the nuclear Overhauser effects a set of 160 approximate interproton distances is determined and used as the basis of a structure refinement employing restrained molecular dynamics in which the interproton distances are incorporated into the total energy function of the system in the form of an effective potential term. Two restrained dynamics simulations are carried out, starting from classical B- and A-DNA [atomic root mean square (rms) difference 5.7 A]. In both cases convergence is achieved to very similar B-type structures with an atomic rms difference of 0.9 A which is comparable to the rms fluctuations of the atoms about their average positions. In addition, the rms difference between the experimental and calculated values of the interproton distances for both average restrained dynamics structures is approximately 0.3 A. These results suggest that the converged restrained molecular dynamics structures represent reasonable approximations of the solution structure. The average restrained dynamics structures exhibit clear sequence-dependent variations of torsion angles and helical parameters. In addition, the structures exhibit a small bend of around 10-20 degrees at the second (TpG) and eighth (CpA) base pair steps. This can be attributed to the positive base roll angles and large base pair slide values at the two Pyr-Pur steps. The central core of the decamer comprising the six-base recognition site for BamH1 (GGATCC), however, is straight.