For a long time multi-component syntheses of heterocycles have undeniably been a domain of classical carbonyl condensation chemistry. However, the advent of transition-metal catalysis not only has fertilized strategies in heterocyclic synthesis by uni- and bimolecular transformations but the past decade has also witnessed a rapid development of transition-metal catalysis in new multi-component reactions (MCR). Expectedly, palladium catalyzed processes have received a dominant position, yet, other transition-metal complexes are catching up implying organometallic elementary steps that reach even further than cross-coupling and carbometallation. Besides domino MCRs that are purely based upon organometallic catalysis the sequential and consecutive combination with condensation, addition and cycloaddition steps opens a vast playground for the invention of new sequences in heterocyclic synthesis. This tutorial review outlines the underlying reaction based principles of transition-metal catalysis in multi-component syntheses of heterocycles, summarizes recent developments of palladium catalyzed MCR, and highlights the more recent contributions to MCR based heterocyclic synthesis by virtue of rhodium, ruthenium, and copper catalysis.
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