The new water-soluble ruthenium-nitrosyl complexes [RuCl3(NO)(TPPMS)(2)] and [RuCl3(NO)(TPPTS)(2)] were synthetized and characterized by IR, H-1 and P-31 NMR spectroscopies. The NO stretching frequencies, nu(NO) = 1870 cm(-1) (TPPMS) and 1883 cm(-1) (TPPTS) suggest a linear Ru-N-O arrangements. Reactions with OH- yield the corresponding [RuCl3 (NO2)(P)(2)] derivatives, furthermore, [RuH(NO)(P)(3)] is formed with TPPMS or TPPTS, respectively, under 100 bar H-2 pressure. The new complexes are suitable precatalysts for the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide and/or bicarbonate in aqueous solutions up to a turnover frequency of 400 h(-1) under relatively mild conditions (30 bar H-2, 70 degreesC). (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.