A new donor-DNA-acceptor system has been synthesized containing Nile red-modified 2′-deoxyuridine as charge donor and 6-N,N-dimethylaminopyrene-modified 2′-deoxyuridine as acceptor to investigate the charge transfer in DNA duplexes using fluorescence spectroscopy and time-resolved femtosecond pump-probe techniques. Fluorescence quenching experiments revealed that the quenching efficiency of Nile red depends on two components: 1) the presence of a charge acceptor and 2) the number of intervening CG and AT base pairs between donor and acceptor. Surprisingly, the quenching efficiency of two base pairs (73 % for CG and the same for AT) is higher than that for one base pair (68 % for CG and 37 % for AT), while at a separation of three base pairs less than 10 % quenching is observed. A comparison with the results of time-resolved measurements revealed a correlation between quenching efficiency and the first ultrafast time constant suggesting that quenching proceeds via a charge transfer from the donor to the acceptor. All transients are satisfactorily described with two decays: a rapid charge transfer with 600 fs (∼1012 s−1) that depends strongly and in a non-linear fashion on the distance between donor and acceptor, and a slower time constant of a few picoseconds (∼1011 s−1) with weak distance dependence. A third time constant on a nanosecond time scale represents the fluorescence lifetime of the donor molecule. According to these results and time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) calculations a combination of single-step superexchange and multistep hopping mechanisms can be proposed for this short-range charge transfer. Furthermore, significantly less quenching efficiency and slower charge transfer rates at very short distances indicate that the direct interaction between donor and acceptor leads to a local structural distortion of DNA duplexes which may provide some uncertainty in identifying the charge transfer rates in short-range systems.