Owing to a striking, and most likely fortuitous, structural and sequence similarity with the bacterial 16 S ribosomal A site, the RNA kissing-loop complex formed by the HIV-1 genomic RNA dimerization initiation site (DIS) specifically binds 4,5-disubstituted 2-deoxystreptamine (2-DOS) aminoglycoside antibiotics. We used chemical probing, molecular modeling, isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and UV melting to investigate aminoglycoside binding to the DIS loop–loop complex. We showed that apramycin, an aminoglycoside containing a bicyclic moiety, also binds the DIS, but in a different way than 4,5-disubstituted 2-DOS aminoglycosides. The determination of thermodynamic parameters for various aminoglycosides revealed the role of the different rings in the drug–RNA interaction. Surprisingly, we found that the affinity of lividomycin and neomycin for the DIS ( K d ∼ 30 nM) is significantly higher than that obtained in the same experimental conditions for their natural target, the bacterial A site ( K d ∼ 1.6 µM). In good agreement with their respective affinity, aminoglycoside increase the melting temperature of the loop–loop interaction and also block the conversion from kissing-loop complex to extended duplex. Taken together, our data might be useful for selecting new molecules with improved specificity and affinity toward the HIV-1 DIS RNA.