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The range of transition metal-mediated P–C/X exchange reactions that result in the replacement of a phosphine substituent with another group, X, are categorised according to the nature of the replacing group (X = aryl or alkyl, N- and O-based species and fluoride). Proposed mechanisms for P–C/X exchange are described and the factors promoting these unusual—and often undesirable—reactions are discussed. This tutorial review should be of relevance for those engaged in homogeneous catalysis, C–F activation and the synthesis of complexes combining soft metal centres and hard donor ligands.
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