Synfacts 2019; 15(03): 0295
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1611216
Organo- and Biocatalysis
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

The Morita–Baylis–Hillman Reaction

Benjamin List
Oleg Grossmann
Suzuki Z, Hirose H, Morita K.-i. * Toyo Rayon Company, Ltd., Kamakura, Japan
A Tertiary Phosphine-Catalyzed Reaction of Acrylic Compounds with Aldehydes.

Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn. 1968;
41: 2815
Baylis AB, Hillman ME. D. The Basic Research Laboratories, Kamakura, Japan
Verfahren zur Herstellung von Acrylverbindungen.

German Patent 2155113, 1972
Weitere Informationen


15. Februar 2019 (online)



In 1968, Morita and co-workers reported the first Lewis base catalyzed acrylic α-substitution of activated vinyl compounds by using Cy3P as catalyst. Additionally, in 1972, Baylis and Hillman patented the reaction between α,β-unsaturated carboxylic acid derivatives and aldehydes in the presence of a tertiary amine catalyst. This reaction, nowadays called the Morita–Baylis–Hillman (MBH) reaction, is highly versatile and atom economical.



The MBH reaction typically requires an activated alkene, an electrophile, and a Lewis base catalyst. The mechanism starts with the conjugate addition of the catalyst to the activated alkene, thus forming a zwitterionic adduct, typically a 3-ammonium enolate, which reacts with the electrophile. After proton transfer and elimination of the catalyst, the product is obtained in typically good yields, sometimes after long reaction times. To use ketones as electrophiles, high pressures are required.