Transamidation is a chemical reaction in which an amide reacts with an amine to generate a new amide:

RC(O)NR'2 + HNR"2 → RC(O)NR"2 + HNR'2

The reaction is typically very slow, but it can be accelerated with Lewis acid[1] and organometallic catalysts.[2] Primary amides (RC(O)NH2) are more amenable to this reaction.


In contrast to the reluctance of amides as substrates, urea is more susceptible to this exchange process. Transamidation is practiced, sometimes even on an industrial scale, to prepare a variety of N-substituted ureas:[3]

(H2N)2CO + R2NH → (R2N)(H2N)CO + NH3
(R2N)(H2N)CO + R2NH → (R2N)2CO + NH3

Methylurea, precursor to theobromine, is produced from methylamine and urea. Phenylurea is produced similarly but from anilinium chloride:[4]

(H2N)2CO + [C6H5NH3]Cl → (C6H5(H)N)(H2N)CO + NH4Cl

Hydrazine derivatives of urea are often produced by transamidation-like reactions. These products include carbohydrazide, semicarbazide, and biurea.


  1. ^ T. A. Dineen, M. A. Zajac, A. G. Myers (2006). "Efficient Transamidation of Primary Carboxamides by in situ Activation with N,N-Dialkylformamide Dimethyl Acetals". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128 (50): 16406–16409. doi:10.1021/ja066728i. PMID 17165798.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Emma L. Baker, Michael M. Yamano, Yujing Zhou, Sarah M. Anthony, Neil K. Garg (2016). "A two-step approach to achieve secondary amide transamidation enabled by nickel catalysis". Nature Communications. 7: 11554. Bibcode:2016NatCo...711554B. doi:10.1038/ncomms11554. PMC 4876455. PMID 27199089.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ C. Nitschke; G. Scherr (2012). "Urea Derivatives". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.o27_o04.
  4. ^ "Arylureas II. Urea Method p-Ethoxyphenylurea". Org. Synth. 31: 11. 1951. doi:10.15227/orgsyn.031.0011.