Tosylation of chitin under homogeneous conditions was achieved by the reaction of tosyl chloride with chitin in a DMAc/LiCl solvent system. The resultant tosyl-chitin was fully N-acetylated with acetic anhydride in methanol. The fully acetylated tosyl-chitin was subsequently reacted with the sodium salts of ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate, diethyl malonate, and diethyl phosphite in DMAc to give the corresponding chitin derivatives of 6-O-ethyl benzoate-chitin, 6-deoxy-diethyl malonate-chitin, and 6-(deoxydiethyl) phosphite-chitin, respectively. Subsequent hydrolysis of the chitin-ester derivatives with tert-butoxide in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) generated 6-O-carboxyphenyl-chitin and 6-(deoxydicarboxy)methyl-chitin. The structures of the chitin derivatives were assessed by FT-IR, (13)C NMR, and (31)P NMR, while the degree of substitution of the S(N)2 reaction was estimated by elemental analysis. All the chitin derivatives were found to be soluble or swellable in water, DMAc, or DMSO.