A new method for the post-synthetic modification of nucleic acids was developed that involves mixing a phenyl triazolinedione (PTAD) derivative with DNA containing a vinyl nucleobase. The resulting reactions proceeded through step-wise mechanisms, giving either a formal [4+2] cycloaddition product, or, depending on the context of nucleobase, PTAD addition along with solvent trapping to give a secondary alcohol in water. Catalyst-free addition between PTAD and the terminal alkene of 5-vinyl-2'-deoxyuridine (VdU) was exceptionally fast, with a second-order rate constant of 2×103 m-1 s-1 . PTAD derivatives selectively reacted with VdU-containing oligonucleotides in a conformation-selective manner, with higher yields observed for G-quadruplex versus duplex DNA. These results demonstrate a new strategy for copper-free bioconjugation of DNA that can potentially be used to probe nucleic acid conformations in cells.