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Kinetic and spectroscopic analyses were performed to gain information about the mechanism of atom-transfer radical reactions catalyzed by the complexes [RuCl2Cp*(PPh3)] and [RuClCp*(PPh3)2] (Cp*=pentamethylcyclopentadienyl), in the presence and in the absence of the reducing agent magnesium. The reactions of styrene with ethyl trichloroacetate, ethyl dichloroacetate, or dichloroacetonitrile were used as test reactions. The results show that for substrates with high intrinsic reactivity, such as ethyl trichloroacetate, the oxidation state of the catalyst in the resting state is +3, and that the reaction is zero-order with respect to the halogenated compound. Furthermore, the kinetic data suggest that the metal catalyst is not directly involved in the rate- limiting step of the reaction.