New solvents provide synthetic chemists with the opportunity of conducting new reactions and carrying out new processes. In this paper the author's own work on organometallic chemistry in ionic liquids is reviewed and placed in context with studies from other groups in this area. Specifically, the paper will describe the use of ionic liquids in the synthesis of organometallic complexes and clusters and the use of ionic liquids in hydrogenation catalysis. The synthesis and reactivity of ionic liquids with organometallic anions will also be discussed. Copyright (C) 2002 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.