Using cryo-electron microscopy we reconstructed the three-dimensional trajectories adopted in cryovitrified solutions by double-stranded DNA molecules in which the backbone of one strand lacked a phosphate at regular intervals of 20 nucleotides. The shape of such nicked DNA molecules was compared with that of DNA molecules with exactly the same sequence but without any single-stranded scissions. Upon changing the salt concentration we observed opposite effects of charge neutralization on nicked and non-nicked DNA. In low salt solutions (10 mM Tris-HCl, 10 mM NaCl) the applied dense nicking caused ca 3.5-fold reduction of the DNA persistence length as compared with non-nicked DNA. Upon increasing the salt concentration (to 150 mM NaCl and 10 mM MgCl2) the persistence length of non-nicked DNA appreciably decreased while that of nicked DNA molecules increased by a factor of 2.