An indicator-based and indicator-free magnetic assays connected with a disposable pencil graphite electrode (PGE) were successfully developed, and also compared for the electrochemical detection of DNA hybridization. The oxidation signals of echinomycin (ECHI) and electroactive DNA bases, guanine and adenine, respectively were monitored in the presence of DNA hybridization by using differential pulse voltammetry (DPV) technique. The biotinylated probe was immobilized onto the magnetic beads (magnetic particles, microspheres) and hybridization with its complementary target at the surface of particles within the medium was exhibited successfully using electrochemical sensor system. For the selectivity studies, the results represent that both indicator-based and indicator-free magnetic assays provide a better discrimination for DNA hybridization compared to duplex with one-base or more mismatches. The detection limits (S/N = 3) of the magnetic assays based on indicator or indicator-free were found in nM concentration level of target using disposable sensor technology with good reproducibility. The characterization and advantages of both proposed magnetic assays connected with a disposable electrochemical sensor are also discussed and compared with those methods previously reported in the literature. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.