Rev is an essential HIV-1 regulatory protein which binds to the Rev responsive element (RRE) present within the env gene of HIV-1 RNA genome. This binding facilitates the transport of the RNA to the cytoplasm, which in turn triggers the switch between viral latency and active viral replication. Essential components of this complex have been localized to a minimal arginine rich Rev peptide and stem IIB region of RRE. A synthetic peptide known as RSG-1.2 binds with high binding affinity and specificity to the RRE-IIB than the Rev peptide, however the thermodynamic basis of this specificity has not yet been addressed. The present study aims to probe the thermodynamic origin of this specificity of RSG-1.2 over Rev Peptide for RRE-IIB. The temperature dependent melting studies show that RSG-1.2 binding stabilizes the RRE structure significantly (ΔT m = 4.3°C), in contrast to Rev binding. Interestingly the thermodynamic signatures of the binding have also been found to be different for both the peptides. At pH 7.5, RSG-1.2 binds RRE-IIB with a K a = 16.2±0.6×10 7 M -1 where enthalpic change ΔH = -13.9±0.1 kcal/mol is the main driving force with limited unfavorable contribution from entropic change TΔS = -2.8±0.1 kcal/mol. A large part of ΔH may be due to specific stacking between U72 and Arg15. In contrast binding of Rev (K a = 3.1±0.4×10 7 M -1) is driven mainly by entropy (ΔH = 0 kcal/mol and TΔS = 10.2±0.2 kcal/mol) which arises from major conformational changes in the RNA upon binding. © 2011 Kumar et al.