Intramolecular charge transfer (ICT) reaction has been investigated in 5-(4-dimethylamino-phenyl)-penta-2,4-dienoic acid methyl ester (DPDAME) using spectroscopic techniques. The molecule DPDAME shows local emission in non-polar solvent and dual emission in polar solvents. Solvatochromic effects on the Stokes shifted emission band clearly demonstrate the charge transfer character of the excited state. Quantum chemical calculations have been performed at Hartree-Fock (HF) and density functional theoretical (DFT) levels to correlate the experimental findings. Potential energy curves (PECs) for the ICT reaction have been evaluated along the donor twist angle at DFT and time dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) levels for the ground and excited states, respectively, using B3LYP hybrid functional and 6-31G** basis set. The solvent effects on the spectral properties have been explored theoretically at the same level with time dependent density functional theory-polarized continuum model (TDDFT-PCM) and the theoretical results are found to well substantiate the solvent polarity dependent Stokes shifted emission of DPDAME. Huge enhancement of dipole moment (Δμ=16.42 D) of the molecule following photoexcitation dictates the highly polar character of the excited state. Although elucidation of PECs does not exactly predict the operation of ICT according to twisted intramolecular charge transfer (TICT) model in DPDAME, lowering of vertical transition energy as a function of the donor twist coordinate scripts the occurrence of red shifted emission as observed experimentally. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.