Doxorubicin (Dox), a widely used anticancer DNA-binding drug, affects chromatin in multiple ways, and these effects contribute to both its efficacy and dose-limiting side-effects, especially cardiotoxicity. Here we studied the Dox effects on the chromatin binding of the architectural proteins high mobility group B1 (HMGB1) and the linker histone H1, and the transcription factor retinoic acid receptor (RARα) by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), in live cells. At lower drug concentrations, Dox increased the binding of HMGB1 to DNA while decreasing the binding of the linker histone H1. At higher doses that correspond to the peak plasma concentrations reached in chemotherapy, Dox reduced the binding of HMGB1 as well. This biphasic effect is interpreted in terms of a hierarchy of competition between the ligands involved and Dox-induced local conformational changes of nucleosome-free DNA. When combined, FRAP and FCS mobility data suggest that Dox decreases the overall binding of RARα to DNA, an effect that was only partially overcome by agonist binding. The intertwined interactions described likely contribute to the effects as well as side-effects of Dox.