We present single-pair fluorescence resonance energy transfer (spFRET) observations of individual opening and closing events of surface-immobilized DNA hairpins. Two glass-surface immobilization strategies employing the biotin-streptavidin interaction and a third covalent immobilization strategy involving formation of a disulfide bond to a thiol-derivatized glass surface are described and evaluated. Results from image and time-trace data from surface-immobilized molecules are compared with those from freely diffusing molecules, which are unperturbed by surface interactions. Using a simple two-state model to analyze the open and closed time distributions for immobilized hairpins, we calculate the lifetimes of the two states. For hairpins with a loop size of 40 adenosines and a stem size of either seven or nine bases, the respective closed-state lifetimes are 45 +/- 2.4 and 103 +/- 6.0 ms, while the respective open-state lifetimes are 133 +/- 5.5 and 142 +/- 22 ms. These results show that the open state of the hairpin is favored over the closed state of the hairpin under these conditions, consistent with previous diffusion fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) experiments on poly(A)-loop hairpins. The measured open-state lifetime is about 30 times longer than the calculated 3 ms open-state lifetime for both hairpins based on a closing rate scaling factor derived from a previous FCS study for hairpins in diffusion with 12-30 thymidines in their loops. As predicted, the closed-state lifetime is dependent on the stem length and is independent of the loop characteristics. Our findings indicate that current models should consider sequence dependence in calculating ssDNA thermostability. The surface immobilization chemistries and other experimental techniques described here should prove useful for studies of single-molecule populations and dynamics.