Aromatic rings act as hydrogen bond acceptors

J Mol Biol. 1988 Jun 20;201(4):751-4. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(88)90471-8.


Simple energy calculations show that there is a significant interaction between a hydrogen bond donor (like the greater than NH group) and the centre of a benzene ring, which acts as a hydrogen bond acceptor. This interaction, which is about half as strong as a normal hydrogen bond, contributes approximately 3 kcal/mol (1 cal = 4.184 J) of stabilizing enthalpy and is expected to play a significant role in molecular associations. It is of interest that the aromatic hydrogen bond arises from small partial charges centred on the ring carbon and hydrogen atoms: there is no need to consider delocalized electrons. Although some energy calculations have included such partial charges, their role in forming such a strong interaction was not appreciated until after aromatic hydrogen bonds had been observed in protein-drug complexes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Benzene*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical*
  • Hydrogen Bonding*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Benzene