The dual-labeled oligonucleotide derivative, FAT-0, carrying 6- carboxyfluorescein (FAM) and 6-carboxytetramethylrhodamine (TAMRA) labels at the 5' and 3' termini of the thrombin-binding aptamer (TBA) sequence 5'-GGT TGG TGT GGT TGG-3', and its derivatives, FAT-n (n=3, 5, and 7) with a spacer at the 5'-end of a TBA sequence of T(m)A (m=2, 4, and 6) have been designed and synthesized. These fluorescent probes were developed for monitoring K(+) concentrations in living organisms. Circular dichroism, UV-visible absorption, and fluorescence studies revealed that all FAT-n probes could form intramolecular tetraplex structures after binding K(+). Fluorescence resonance energy transfer and quenching results are discussed taking into account dye-dye contact interactions. The relationship between the fluorescence behavior of the probes and the spacer length in FAT-n was studied in detail and is discussed.