The use of short oligonucleotide probes is finding increased application in DNA sequencing and genome characterization techniques, but a lack of knowledge of the hybridization properties of short duplexes hinders their use. Melting data were acquired on 128 DNA duplexes based on the length proposed in sequencing by hybridization procedures and formed from the general sequences 5'-XYZTGGAC-3',5'-GTCCAXYZ-3',5'-GCXYZGAC-3', and 5'-GTCXYZGC-3' where X, Y, and Z are either A, T, G, or C. These molecules were designed to elucidate the effects of location and nearest-neighbor stacking on the stability of base pairing in short DNA duplexes. The type of base pairs present had a major effect on stability, but was insufficient to predict stability without the inclusion of nearest-neighbor terms. Furthermore, the addition of information on position, or distance from the end, of the nearest-neighbor doublets led to statistically better fitting of the melting data. However, the positionally dependent stabilization differences are small compared with the contributions of base pairing and stacking.