Claisen rearrangement

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Claisen rearrangement
Named after Rainer Ludwig Claisen
Reaction type Rearrangement reaction
Organic Chemistry Portal claisen-rearrangement
RSC ontology ID RXNO:0000148

The Claisen rearrangement (not to be confused with the Claisen condensation) is a powerful carbon–carbon bond-forming chemical reaction discovered by Rainer Ludwig Claisen. The heating of an allyl vinyl ether will initiate a [3,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement to give a γ,δ-unsaturated carbonyl.

The Claisen rearrangement

Discovered in 1912, the Claisen rearrangement is the first recorded example of a [3,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement.[1][2][3] Many reviews have been written.[4][5][6][7]


The Claisen rearrangement is an exothermic, concerted (bond cleavage and recombination) pericyclic reaction. Woodward–Hoffmann rules show a suprafacial, stereospecific reaction pathway. The kinetics are of the first order and the whole transformation proceeds through a highly ordered cyclic transition state and is intramolecular. Crossover experiments eliminate the possibility of the rearrangement occurring via an intermolecular reaction mechanism and are consistent with an intramolecular process.[8][9]

There are substantial solvent effects observed in the Claisen rearrangement, where polar solvents tend to accelerate the reaction to a greater extent. Hydrogen-bonding solvents gave the highest rate constants. For example, ethanol/water solvent mixtures give rate constants 10-fold higher than sulfolane.[10][11] Trivalent organoaluminium reagents, such as trimethylaluminium, have been shown to accelerate this reaction.[12][13]


Aromatic Claisen rearrangement[edit]

The first reported Claisen rearrangement is the [3,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement of an allyl phenyl ether to intermediate 1, which quickly tautomerizes to an ortho-substituted phenol.

The Claisen rearrangement

Meta-substitution affects the regioselectivity of this rearrangement.[14][15] For example, electron withdrawing groups (e.g. bromide) at the meta-position direct the rearrangement to the ortho-position (71% ortho-product), while electron donating groups (e.g. methoxy), direct rearrangement to the para-position (69% para-product). Additionally, presence of ortho-substituents exclusively leads to para-substituted rearrangement products (tandem Claisen and Cope rearrangement).[16]

Aromatic Claisen with ortho-position substituted

If an aldehyde or carboxylic acid occupies the ortho or para positions, the allyl side-chain displaces the group, releasing it as carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, respectively.[17][18]

Bellus–Claisen rearrangement[edit]

The Bellus–Claisen rearrangement is the reaction of allylic ethers, amines, and thioethers with ketenes to give γ,δ-unsaturated esters, amides, and thioesters.[19][20][21] This transformation was serendipitously observed by Bellus in 1979 through their synthesis of a key intermediate of an insecticide, pyrethroid. Halogen substituted ketenes (R1, R2) are often used in this reaction for their high electrophilicity. Numerous reductive methods for the removal of the resulting α-haloesters, amides and thioesters have been developed.[22][23] The Bellus-Claisen offers synthetic chemists a unique opportunity for ring expansion strategies.

The Bellus–Claisen rearrangement

Eschenmoser–Claisen rearrangement[edit]

The Eschenmoser–Claisen rearrangement proceeds by heating allylic alcohols in the presence of N,N-dimethylacetamide dimethyl acetal to form γ,δ-unsaturated amide. This was developed by Albert Eschenmoser in 1964.[24][25] Eschenmoser-Claisen rearrangement was used as a key step in the total synthesis of morphine.[26]

The Eschenmoser-Claisen rearrangement


Eschenmoser–Claisen mechanism

Ireland–Claisen rearrangement[edit]

The Ireland–Claisen rearrangement is the reaction of an allylic carboxylate with a strong base (such as lithium diisopropylamide) to give a γ,δ-unsaturated carboxylic acid.[27][28][29] The rearrangement proceeds via silylketene acetal, which is formed by trapping the lithium enolate with chlorotrimethylsilane. Like the Bellus-Claisen (above), Ireland-Claisen rearrangement can take place at room temperature and above. The E- and Z-configured silylketene acetals lead to anti and syn rearranged products, respectively.[30] There are numerous examples of enantioselective Ireland-Claisen rearrangements found in literature to include chiral boron reagents and the use of chiral auxiliaries.[31][32]

The Ireland–Claisen rearrangement

Johnson–Claisen rearrangement[edit]

The Johnson–Claisen rearrangement is the reaction of an allylic alcohol with an orthoester to yield a γ,δ-unsaturated ester.[33] Weak acids, such as propionic acid, have been used to catalyze this reaction. This rearrangement often requires high temperatures (100 to 200 °C) and can take anywhere from 10 to 120 hours to complete.[34] However, microwave assisted heating in the presence of KSF-clay or propionic acid have demonstrated dramatic increases in reaction rate and yields.[35][36]

The Johnson–Claisen rearrangement


Johnson–Claisen mechanism

Photo-Claisen rearrangement[edit]

The photo-Claisen rearrangement is closely related to the photo-Fries rearrangement, that proceeds through a similar radical mechanism. Aryl ethers undergo the photo-Claisen rearrangement, while the photo-Fries rearrangement utilizes aryl esters.[37]



An iminium can serve as one of the pi-bonded moieties in the rearrangement.[38]

An example of the Aza–Claisen rearrangement

Chromium oxidation[edit]

Chromium can oxidize allylic alcohols to alpha-beta unsaturated ketones on the opposite side of the unsaturated bond from the alcohol. This is via a concerted hetero-Claisen reaction, although there are mechanistic differences since the chromium atom has access to d- shell orbitals which allow the reaction under a less constrained set of geometries.[39][40]


Chen–Mapp reaction[edit]

The Chen–Mapp reaction also known as the [3,3]-Phosphorimidate Rearrangement or Staudinger–Claisen Reaction installs a phosphite in the place of an alcohol and takes advantage of the Staudinger reduction to convert this to an imine. The subsequent Claisen is driven by the fact that a P=O double bond is more energetically favorable than a P=N double bond.[41]

The Mapp reaction

Overman rearrangement[edit]

Main article: Overman rearrangement

The Overman rearrangement (named after Larry Overman) is a Claisen rearrangement of allylic trichloroacetimidates to allylic trichloroacetamides.[42][43][44]

The Overman rearrangement

Overman rearrangement is applicable to synthesis of vicinol diamino comp from 1,2 vicinal allylic diol.

Zwitterionic Claisen rearrangement[edit]

Unlike typical Claisen rearrangements which require heating, zwitterionic Claisen rearrangements take place at or below room temperature. The acyl ammonium ions are highly selective for Z-enolates under mild conditions.[45][46]

The zwitterionic Claisen rearrangement

Claisen rearrangement in nature[edit]

The enzyme Chorismate mutase (EC catalyzes the Claisen rearrangement of chorismate ion to prephenate ion, a key intermediate in the shikimic acid pathway (the biosynthetic pathway towards the synthesis of phenylalanine and tyrosine).[47]

Chorismate mutase catalyzes a Claisen rearrangement

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Claisen, L.; Tietze, E. (1925). "Über den Mechanismus der Umlagerung der Phenol-allyläther". Chemische Berichte. 58 (2): 275. doi:10.1002/cber.19250580207. 
  3. ^ Claisen, L.; Tietze, E. (1926). "Über den Mechanismus der Umlagerung der Phenol-allyläther. (2. Mitteilung)". Chemische Berichte. 59 (9): 2344. doi:10.1002/cber.19260590927. 
  4. ^ Hiersemann, M.; Nubbemeyer, U. (2007) The Claisen Rearrangement. Wiley-VCH. ISBN 3-527-30825-3
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