Using an in vitro selection approach, we have isolated oligonucleotides that can bind to a DNA hairpin structure. Complex formation of these oligonucleotides with the target hairpin involves some type of triple-stranded structure with noncanonical interaction, as indicated by bandshift assays and footprinting studies. The selected oligomers can block restriction endonuclease cleavage of the target hairpin in a sequence-specific manner. We demonstrate that in vitro selection can extend the antisense approach to functional targeting of secondary structure motifs. This could provide a basis for interfering with regulatory processes mediated by a variety of nucleic acid structures.