The down regulation of gene expression is a promising strategy for molecular medicine and experimental biology. Molecules that bind to the DNA double helix may interfere with gene expression and, in addition to potential therapeutic applications, can be helpful for the investigation of DNA processing, chromatin package, or associated biological processes. Triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) bind to specific sequences in the DNA double helix via hydrogen bonding interactions. TFOs have been shown to down-regulate gene expression, to induce targeted genomic DNA modifications, to stimulate DNA recombination, and to modulate chromatin organization. Additionally, they may be used as carriers to position DNA-modifying agents to selected sequences. TFO-mediated effects have been mostly described in cell culture, but one study reported TFO activity in a mouse model. Critical issues regarding TFO-based technologies are the development of new oligonucleotide analogues with improved binding affinity, better target selectivity, and sufficient stability in the intracellular environment. A prerequisite for the development of such DNA-binding molecules is the availability of appropriate methods to assess their binding properties quantitatively at the desired target sequence in the genome. This review focuses on recent results regarding gene-inhibitory effects of TFOs in cell culture and methods to evaluate TFO-binding to the desired target sequence in the context of the human genome.