Ugi reaction

What is Ugi reaction?

The Ugi reaction is a powerful synthetic tool used in organic chemistry to create complex molecules from simple precursors. It is a multi-component reaction that combines an amine, a carboxylic acid, an isocyanide, and an aldehyde or ketone to form a variety of compounds, such as amides, imines, and ureas..

Ugi reaction - four-component condensation
Ugi reaction

The Ugi reaction was first reported in 1959 by a German chemist named Ivar Ugi, who was working at the University of Frankfurt at the time. Since its discovery, the Ugi reaction has become a widely used method for the synthesis of complex molecules, particularly in the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries..

The mechanism of the Ugi reaction involves the formation of an intermediate called an “isourea”. This intermediate is formed by the condensation of the amine and carboxylic acid, with the loss of a molecule of water. The isocyanide is then added to the reaction mixture, and it reacts with the isourea to form an isocyanate intermediate. The aldehyde or ketone is then added to the mixture, and it reacts with the isocyanate to form the final product..

The Ugi reaction has a wide range of applications, and it can be used to synthesize a variety of compounds, including drugs, dyes, and fragrances. For example, it has been used to synthesize the anti-inflammatory drug Ibuprofen and the anti-cancer drug Cisplatin. The reaction also has potential in the field of materials science, as it can be used to create polymers and other materials..

One of the key advantages of the Ugi reaction is its versatility. It can be used to create a wide range of products, and it can also be modified to form different types of compounds. For example, by using different types of amines, carboxylic acids, isocyanides, and aldehydes or ketones, the Ugi reaction can be used to create a variety of compounds with different properties..


Ugi reaction is a powerful and versatile synthetic tool that has become an essential tool in the field of organic chemistry. It has a wide range of applications, including the synthesis of drugs, dyes, fragrances, and other complex molecules. The reaction is relatively simple to perform and can be modified to create different types of compounds. As such, it continues to be a popular method among synthetic chemists..


I. Ugi, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1, 8 (1962)