A heterobimetallic complex, in which a RuCl2(acetone) (PPh3)(2) fragment is connected via three chloro bridges to a (eta(4)-C4Ph4CO)RhCl fragment, has been identified as a potent catalyst precursor for the Oppenauer-type oxidation of alcohols. With 0.1-0.5 mol % of this complex and K2CO3 as the cocatalyst, it is possible to oxidize secondary and primary alcohols at room temperature using acetone as the solvent and oxidation agent.