Clear evidence for the formation of a weak inclusion complex between dopamine (DA) and a sulfonated beta-CD host in aqueous solution was obtained using a combination of electrochemical approaches. Using cyclic voltammetry, a distinct increase in the oxidation potential of DA and a reduction in the peak oxidation current were observed on adding an excess concentration of the sulfonated beta-CD to the electrolyte solution. Equally, a clear increase in the half-wave oxidation potential of DA was observed in the presence of the sulfonated beta-CD using rotating disc voltammetry. The association constant, K, was computed as 331.3 +/- 5.8, indicating the formation of a weak inclusion complex, while a 1:1 stoichiometry for the inclusion complex was deduced from a Job's plot analysis. The rate constant for the oxidation of DA was found to decrease on formation of the inclusion complex. This was attributed to higher reorganization energy for the oxidation of the included DA. These changes in the electrochemistry of DA were not observed when an excess of the smaller sulfonated alpha-CD was added to the electrolyte, indicating that these variations are not connected with simple electrostatic interactions between the protonated DA and the anionic sulfonated groups. It is proposed that the aromatic ring of the DA molecule includes within the cyclodextrin cavity, while the protonated amine group remains outside the cavity, bound electrostatically with the anionic sulfonated groups. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.