Here we investigate the structures and energetics of interactions between aromatic (Phe or Tyr) and basic (Lys or Arg) amino acids in α-helices. Side chain interaction energies are measured using helical peptides, by quantifying their helicities with circular dichroism at 222 nm and interpreting the results with Lifson-Roig-based helix/coil theory. A difficulty in working with Tyr is that the aromatic ring perturbs the CD spectrum, giving an incorrect helicity. We calculated the effect of Tyr on the CD at 222 nm by deriving the intensities of the bands directly from the electronic and magnetic transition dipole moments through the rotational strengths corresponding to each excited state of the polypeptide. This gives an improved value of the helix preference of Tyr (from 0.48 to 0.35) and a correction to the helicity for the peptides containing Tyr. We find that Phe-Lys, Lys-Phe, Phe-Arg, Arg-Phe, and Tyr-Lys are all stabilizing by -0.10 to -0.18 kcal·mol-1 when placed i, i + 4 on the surface of a helix in aqueous solution, despite the great difference in polarity between these residues. Interactions between these side chains have previously been attributed to cation-π bonds. A survey of protein structures shows that they are in fact predominantly hydrophobic interactions between the CH2 groups of Lys or Arg and the aromatic rings.