The present study makes use of direct photoaffinity labeling and fluorescence and circular dichroism spectroscopy to examine the interaction of the inhalational anesthetic halothane with the uncharged alpha-helical form of poly(L-lysine) over a range of chain lengths. Halothane bound specifically to long chain homopolymers (190 to 1060 residues), reaching a stable stoichiometry of 1 halothane to 160 lysine residues in polymers longer than 300 residues. Halothane bound only non-specifically to an alpha-helical 30 residue polymer and to all of the polymers in their charged, random coil form. The data suggest that halothane binding is a function of supersecondary structure whereby intramolecular helix-helix clusters form in the longer polymers, resulting in the creation of confined hydrophobic domains. Circular dichroism spectroscopy cannot demonstrate changes in poly(L-lysine) secondary structure at any chain length with up to 12 mM halothane, suggesting that extensive hydrogen bond disruption by the anesthetic does not occur.