A star shaped poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate) (PSBMA) and its linear analogs, display upper-critical solution-temperature (UCST) type behavior in 0.1 M NaCI. The presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) or cetyl trimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) has a significant effect on the thermal transition of the polymer. The association of the polymer with the surfactants is confirmed by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and infrared (IR) spectroscopy. SDS forms hydrophobic domains along the polymer chains, preventing the polymers from undergoing a thermal phase transition. These domains can be used to capture 1-anilino-8-naphthalenesulfonate (1,8-ANS), pyrene and curcumin, and increase their fluorescence intensity. Curcumin, which is unstable in aqueous solutions, is stabilized against degradation upon solubilization by the PSBMA-SDS complexes. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.