In an effort to develop unnatural DNA base pairs we examined six pyridine-based nucleotides, d3MPy, d4MPy, d5MPy, d34DMPy, d35DMPy and d45DMPy. Each bears a pyridyl nucleobase scaffold but they are differentiated by methyl substitution, and were designed to vary both inter- and intra-strand packing within duplex DNA. The effects of the unnatural base pairs on duplex stability demonstrate that the pyridine scaffold may be optimized for stable and selective pairing, and identify one self pair, the pair formed between two d34DMPy nucleotides, which is virtually as stable as a dA:dT base pair in the same sequence context. In addition, we found that the incorporation of either the d34DMPy self pair or a single d34DMPy paired opposite a natural dA significantly increases oligonucleotide hybridization fidelity at other positions within the duplex. Hypersensitization of the duplex to mispairing appears to result from global and interdependent solvation effects mediated by the unnatural nucleotide(s) and the mispair. The results have important implications for our efforts to develop unnatural base pairs and suggest that the unnatural nucleotides might be developed as novel biotechnological tools, diagnostics, or therapeutics for applications where hybridization stringency is important.