The sequence-specific recognition of duplex DNA by unmodified parallel triplex-forming oligonucleotides is restricted to low pH conditions due to a necessity for cytosine protonation in the third strand. This has severely restricted their use as gene-targeting agents, as well as for the detection and/or functionalisation of synthetic or genomic DNA. Here I report that the nucleobase 6-amino-5-nitropyridin-2-one (Z) finally overcomes this constraint by acting as an uncharged mimic of protonated cytosine. Synthetic TFOs containing the nucleobase enabled stable and selective triplex formation at oligopurine-oligopyrimidine sequences containing multiple isolated or contiguous GC base pairs at neutral pH and above. Moreover, I demonstrate a universal strategy for the enzymatic assembly of Z-containing TFOs using its commercially available deoxyribonucleotide triphosphate. These findings seek to improve not only the recognition properties of TFOs but also the cost and/or expertise associated with their chemical syntheses.