The thermal properties of two forms of the Drosophila melanogaster HMGD protein, with and without its highly basic 26 residue C-terminal tail (D100 and D74) and the thermodynamics of their non-sequence-specific interaction with linear DNA duplexes were studied using scanning and titration microcalorimetry, spectropolarimetry, fluorescence anisotropy and FRET techniques at different temperatures and salt concentrations. It was shown that the C-terminal tail of D100 is unfolded at all temperatures, whilst the state of the globular part depends on temperature in a rather complex way, being completely folded only at temperatures close to 0 8C and unfolding with significant heat absorption at temperatures below those of the gross denaturational changes. The association constant and thus Gibbs energy of binding for D100 is much greater than for D74 but the enthalpies of their association are similar and are large and positive, i.e. DNA binding is a completely entropy-driven process. The positive entropy of association is due to release of counterions and dehydration upon forming the protein/DNA complex. Ionic strength variation showed that electrostatic interactions play an important but not exclusive role in the DNA binding of the globular part of this nonsequence- specific protein, whilst binding of the positively charged C-terminal tail of D100 is almost completely electrostatic in origin. This interaction with the negative charges of the DNA phosphate groups significantly enhances the DNA bending. An important feature of the non-sequence-specific association of these HMG boxes with DNA is that the binding enthalpy is significantly more positive than for the sequencespecific association of the HMG box from Sox-5, despite the fact that these proteins bend the DNA duplex to a similar extent. This difference shows that the enthalpy of dehydration of apolar groups at the HMG-D/ DNA interface is not fully compensated by the energy of van der Waals interactions between these groups, i.e. the packing density at the interface must be lower than for the sequence-specific Sox-5 HMG box.