A cationic gold carbonyl complex has been synthesized and characterized using several techniques including X-ray crystallography. [(Mes(3)P)Au(CO)][SbF(6)] (Mes = 2,4,6-Me(3)C(6)H(2)) has a linear, two-coordinate gold atom. This compound displays the CO stretching frequency at 2185 cm(-1). The (13)C NMR signal of the gold-bound (13)CO appears as a doublet centered at δ 182.6 ((2)J(C,P) = 115 Hz). A computational study shows that the Au-CO bond consists of electrostatic attraction, Au ← CO donation, and significant Au → CO π-back-bonding components. Polarization of the CO bond caused by the electrostatic effect of the cationic gold center is mainly responsible for the large blue shift in the CO stretching frequency.