Ruthenium nanoparticles prepared in nitrile-functionalised ionic liquids (ILs) display unusual selectivities toward the hydrogenation of nitrile containing aromatic compounds. In particular, a selective catalytic hydrogenative coupling of nitriles was observed. In this transformation, nitrile groups are exclusively hydrogenated in the presence of arenes, which are typically hydrogenated by ruthenium nanoparticles in non-functionalised ILs. The catalyst material was characterised by means of TEM and EDS analysis. Furthermore, molecular species formed during the catalytic process were characterised by MS-analysis of the gaseous phase and the ionic liquid phase by ESI/MS Q-TOR. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.