Raman and infrared spectra were examined for guanosine 5'-diphosphate (GDP) and guanosine 5'-triphosphate (GTP) in aqueous solution. The vibrational modes were assigned on the basis of isotopic frequency shifts and relative intensities in the Raman and infrared spectra. The observed frequency shifts on 18O isotope labeling made it possible to identify the bands from each phosphate group (alpha, beta, gamma). Frequency shifts were observed as Mg2+ complexes with GDP and GTP. The results suggested that Mg2+ binds to GDP in a bidentate manner to the alpha, beta P[symbol: see text]O bonds and in a tridentate manner to the alpha, beta and gamma P[symbol: see text]O bonds of Mg.GTP. The results indicate that structure of Mg2+ coordinated to GTP in aqueous solution differs somewhat to that found for Mg.ATP.