A major class of anticancer agents in current clinical use exerts its anticancer effects by binding covalently or non-covalently to DNA. A detailed understanding of the nature of these drug-DNA complexes would be expected to lead to better uses of these drugs, and also assist with the design of improved drug derivatives. Here, we present a transcriptional footprinting assay that can be implemented to define the DNA sequence specificity and kinetics associated with drug-DNA complexes. The basic steps involve the formation of drug-DNA complexes, the formation of synchronised initiated transcripts, and finally transcriptional elongation to reveal drug blockage sites that impede the progression of RNA polymerase. We have used the "in vitro transcription assay" to investigate many covalent drug-DNA interactions; most notably those obtained using anthracycline anticancer agents such as doxorubicin and anthracenedione-based anticancer agents, including mitoxantrone and pixantrone.