The azo-derivative, 1,3-dimethyl-5-(p-sulfonamide-phenylazo)-6-aminouracil (HL) containing 6-aminouracil (a biomolecule) and sulfonamide functionality (commonly found in sulfa-drugs), and its Ni(II) complex, NiIIL2 were synthesized. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction studies show that the ligand (HL) consists of an E conformation about the azo-linkage with a nearly planar geometry and the complex possesses distorted square planar geometry. The H-bonded underlying networks of HL and NiIIL2 were topologically classified revealing distinct topological types, namely tts and hxl, respectively. Moreover, topology of molecular packings in HL and NiIIL2 has also been discussed. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations, at the M06-2X/def2TZVP level of theory, are employed to characterize a great variety of non-covalent interactions that explicitly show the importance of antiparallel stacking interactions established by π−–π+ interactions and H-bonds in the self-assembled dimmers in HL and lp–π/C–H⋯π interactions in NiIIL2. The results of NMR and UV–vis spectroscopies evidence that the ligand exists in hydrazone-imine-keto (B) tautomeric form in solution. The ligand absorption bands consist of the overlapping bands of π→π* and n→π* transitions. The complex experiences electronic transitions that consist of basically ILCT in character with some sort of participation of the atomic d-orbitals of the nickel. The pKa value of the ligand is found to be 4.09. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.