Pyridine vs. Pyrimidine

What's the Difference?

Pyridine and pyrimidine are both heterocyclic compounds that contain nitrogen atoms in their ring structures. However, they differ in terms of their ring size and composition. Pyridine has a six-membered ring with one nitrogen atom and five carbon atoms, while pyrimidine has a six-membered ring with two nitrogen atoms and four carbon atoms. This difference in composition leads to distinct chemical properties and reactivity. Pyridine is known for its basicity and is commonly used as a solvent and reagent in organic synthesis. On the other hand, pyrimidine is a key component of nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, and plays a crucial role in the genetic code.


Chemical FormulaC5H5NC4H4N2
StructurePyridine StructurePyrimidine Structure
Number of Nitrogen Atoms12
Number of Carbon Atoms54
Number of Hydrogen Atoms54
Boiling Point (°C)115.2123.4
Melting Point (°C)-41.620.9
OdorFoul, fishyOdorless

Further Detail


Pyridine and pyrimidine are both heterocyclic compounds that play significant roles in various fields, including pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and materials science. While they share some similarities, they also possess distinct attributes that make them unique. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of pyridine and pyrimidine, highlighting their chemical structures, properties, reactivity, and applications.

Chemical Structures

Pyridine and pyrimidine are both six-membered aromatic heterocycles, meaning they contain a ring of six carbon atoms with alternating single and double bonds. However, their nitrogen atom positions differ, leading to distinct structures.

Pyridine has a single nitrogen atom located at position 1, resulting in the formula C5H5N. This arrangement gives pyridine a planar structure, with the nitrogen atom participating in the aromaticity of the ring.

On the other hand, pyrimidine possesses two nitrogen atoms at positions 1 and 3, giving it the formula C4H4N2. This structure causes pyrimidine to adopt a slightly non-planar conformation, with the nitrogen atoms participating in the aromaticity of the ring.

Physical Properties

When comparing the physical properties of pyridine and pyrimidine, several factors come into play, including boiling point, melting point, and solubility.

Pyridine has a boiling point of 115.2 °C and a melting point of -41.6 °C. It is a colorless liquid with a distinct odor, often described as fishy or similar to ammonia. Pyridine is miscible with water, alcohol, and most organic solvents, making it a versatile solvent in various chemical reactions.

Pyrimidine, on the other hand, has a higher boiling point of 123 °C and a melting point of 20-22 °C. It is a colorless crystalline solid with a mild odor. Pyrimidine is also soluble in water and organic solvents, although its solubility in water is lower compared to pyridine.


Both pyridine and pyrimidine exhibit unique reactivity due to the presence of nitrogen atoms in their structures.

Pyridine is a weak base, capable of accepting a proton to form a pyridinium cation. This property makes pyridine useful in various organic reactions, such as nucleophilic substitutions and acid-base reactions. Additionally, the nitrogen atom in pyridine can act as a Lewis base, forming coordination complexes with transition metal ions.

Pyrimidine, on the other hand, is a stronger base compared to pyridine. It can accept two protons, forming dihydro- and trihydro-pyrimidines. This increased basicity is attributed to the presence of two nitrogen atoms in the ring. Pyrimidine's reactivity also extends to nucleophilic aromatic substitutions and coordination chemistry, similar to pyridine.


Pyridine and pyrimidine find extensive applications in various industries, primarily due to their unique chemical properties.

Pyridine is widely used as a solvent in organic synthesis, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and agrochemical formulations. It serves as a precursor for the synthesis of numerous pharmaceutical drugs, including antihistamines, antivirals, and anti-inflammatory agents. Pyridine derivatives also find applications in the production of dyes, rubber chemicals, and herbicides.

Pyrimidine, on the other hand, is a key component in the synthesis of nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. It plays a crucial role in the pharmaceutical industry, serving as a core structure in various drugs, such as antivirals, anticancer agents, and antifungal medications. Pyrimidine derivatives are also utilized in the production of herbicides, pesticides, and fluorescent dyes.


In conclusion, pyridine and pyrimidine are both important heterocyclic compounds with distinct attributes. While pyridine possesses a single nitrogen atom and a planar structure, pyrimidine contains two nitrogen atoms and adopts a slightly non-planar conformation. Their physical properties, reactivity, and applications differ, with pyridine being a versatile solvent and pyrimidine playing a crucial role in nucleotide synthesis and pharmaceuticals. Understanding the unique characteristics of pyridine and pyrimidine allows scientists and researchers to harness their potential in various fields, contributing to advancements in medicine, agriculture, and materials science.

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