Mandelic acid

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Mandelic acid[1]
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IUPAC name
2-Hydroxy-2-phenylacetic acid
Other names
Mandelic acid
Phenylglycolic acid
3D model (JSmol)
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Molar mass 152.15 g·mol−1
Related compounds
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Mandelic acid is an aromatic alpha hydroxy acid with the molecular formula C6H5CH(OH)CO2H. It is a white crystalline solid that is soluble in water and polar organic solvents. It is a useful precursor to various drugs. Since the molecule is chiral, it exists in either of two enantiomers as well as the racemic mixture, known as paramandelic acid.

Isolation and synthesis

Mandelic acid was discovered while heating amygdalin, an extract of bitter almonds, with diluted hydrochloric acid. The name is derived from the German "Mandel" for "almond". Derivatives of mandelic acid are formed as a result of metabolism of adrenaline and noradrenaline by monoamine oxidase and catechol-O-methyl transferase.

Mandelic acid is usually prepared by the acid-catalysed hydrolysis of mandelonitrile,[3] which is the cyanohydrin of benzaldehyde. Mandelonitrile can also be prepared by reacting benzaldehyde with sodium bisulfite to give the corresponding adduct, forming mandelonitrile with sodium cyanide, which is hydrolyzed:[4]

File:Preparation of mandelic acid.png

Alternatively, it arises by base hydrolysis of phenylchloroacetic acid and dibromacetophenone.[5] It also arises by heating phenylglyoxal with alkalis.


Mandelic acid has a long history of use in the medical community as an antibacterial, particularly in the treatment of urinary tract infections.[6] It has also been used as an oral antibiotic, and as a component of "chemical face peels", along with other alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs).

The drugs cyclandelate and homatropine are esters of mandelic acid.


  1. Merck Index, 11th Edition, 5599.
  2. Bjerrum, J., et al. Stability Constants, Chemical Society, London, 1958.
  3. Edwin Ritzer and Rudolf Sundermann "Hydroxycarboxylic Acids, Aromatic" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi: 10.1002/14356007.a13_519
  4. Template:OrgSynth
  5. Template:OrgSynth
  6. Putten, P. L. (1979). "Mandelic acid and urinary tract infections". Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. 45 (4): 622. doi:10.1007/BF00403669.

Template:Other antibacterials