Sequence specific RNA cleaving molecules were synthesized by attaching novel polyamine derivatives bearing imidazole and/or primary amine groups to the 5'-end of DNA oligonucleotides as the sequence-recognizing moieties. The actions of the molecules on a half-tRNA(Asp) were investigated. The oligonucleotides directed the nuclease activity (the imidazole and the primary amine are the catalytic groups) of the enzyme to the nucleotides directly adjacent to the complementary target sequence on the substrate RNA. The cleavage reaction shows a bell-shaped pH dependence with a maximum at pH 7.0, indicating the participation of protonated and non-protonated imidazoles residues in the process. The specificity of these hybrid enzymes can be easily altered, and they should prove to be useful tools for probing RNA structures in solution and as potential reactive groups in antisense oligonucleotide derivatives. We also describe the site-specific cleavage of tRNA(Asp) by the cleaving reagents bearing imidazole and/or primary amine groups at the 5'-end of oligodeoxyribonucleotides.