A series of imidazolium salts with the nitrile functional group attached to the alkyl side chain, viz. [C(n)CNmim][X] (where C(n)CNmim is the 1-alkylnitrile-3-methylimidazolium cation and C-n = (CH2)(n), n = 1-4; X = Cl, PF6, and BF4) and [C(3)CNdmim][X] (where C(n)CNdmim is the 1-alkylnitrile-2,3-dimethylimidazolium cation and C-n = (CH2)(n), n = 3; X = Cl, PF6, and BF4), have been prepared and characterized using spectroscopic methods. The majority of the nitrile-functionalized imidazolium salts can be classed as ionic liquids since they melt below 100 degreesC. Four of the imidazolium salts have been characterized in the solid state using single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis to reveal an extensive series of hydrogen bonds between H atoms on the cation and the anion. The relationship between the solid-state structure and the melting point is discussed. Key physical properties (density, viscosity, and solubility in common solvents) of the low melting ionic liquid have been determined and are compared with those of the related 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium and 1-alkyl-2,3-dimethylimidazolium ionic liquids. It was envisaged that these ionic liquids could act as both solvent and ligand for catalyzed reactions, and this application is demonstrated in hydrogenation reactions, which show that retention of the catalyst in the ionic liquid during product extraction is extremely high.