Six new unnatural nucleobases have been synthesized and characterized in terms of stability and selectivity of self-pairing in duplex DNA and efficiency and fidelity of self-pairing during polymerase-mediated replication. Each nucleobase has a conserved ring structure but differs from the others in its specific pattern of substitution with oxygen and sulfur atoms. Heteroatom derivatization within the conserved scaffold is shown to have only moderate effects on unnatural self-pair synthesis by the polymerase; larger effects were observed on the thermal stability and polymerase-mediated extension of the self-pairs. The largest effects of heteroatom substitution were on the stability and synthesis of mispairs between the unnatural and natural bases. Certain heteroatom substitutions were found to have a general effect while others were found to have effects that were specific for a particular unnatural or natural base. The data are useful for designing stable and replicable third base pairs and for understanding the contributions of nucleobase shape, polarity, and polarizability to the stability and replication of DNA.