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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

From left to right, general structures of a β-lactam, a γ-lactam and a δ-lactam.

A lactam (the noun is a portmanteau of the words lactone + amide) is a cyclic amide. Prefixes may indicate the ring size: β-lactam (4-membered), γ-lactam (5-membered), δ-lactam (6-membered ring). That order in the nomenclature is because beta β, gamma γ and delta δ are the second, third and fourth letters in the alphabetical order of the Greek alphabet, respectively.


General synthetic methods exist for the organic synthesis of lactams.

Iodolactamization reaction
  • Lactams form by copper catalyzed 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition of alkynes and nitrones in the Kinugasa reaction


See also


  1. Spencer Knapp, Frank S. Gibson Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 9, p.516 (1998); Vol. 70, p.101 (1992) Online article

External links