When capture oligonucleotides are tethered on planar surfaces, mass transport limitations influence the kinetics of solid-phase nucleic acid hybridizations. By diffusion theory, however, hybridization of oligonucleotides on microparticles should be reaction-rate limited. In an initial effort to understand the kinetics of microparticle hybridization reactions, we developed a fluorescence resonance energy transfer method for monitoring oligonucleotide hybridization on microparticles. Microparticles were coated with a fluoresceinated oligomer at surface densities of 20, 40, and 80% saturation, hybridized to a complementary oligonucleotide labeled with tetramethylrhodamine, and monitored over time for quenching of the fluorescein signal as hybridization occurred on the particle surface. Association rate constants were compared for microparticle-based hybridization and solution-phase hybridization. Rate constants for hybridizations on the particle surface were about an order of magnitude less than those for hybridization in solution, but decreasing the surface density of the capture oligonucleotide to 20% saturation improved particle hybridization rates. Although a bimolecular reaction model adequately described solution-phase hybridization kinetics, oligonucleotide hybridization on microparticles did not fit this model but exhibited biphasic reaction kinetics. Based on two different lines of reasoning, we argue that microparticle-based oligonucleotide hybridization was indeed reaction-rate limited in our system and not diffusion-rate limited.