Abstract The recent synthesis of platinum nitride opens the possibility of novel platinum-group metal nitrides to exist. In this work we report the synthesis of ruthenium nitride by reactive pulsed laser ablation. Several plausible structures have been evaluated by ab initio calculations using the full potential linearized augmented plane wave method, in order to investigate the ruthenium nitride structural and electronic properties. In fact, the predicted symmetry of stoichiometric RuN matches the experimental diffraction data. RuN crystallizes with NaCl-type structure at room temperature with cell-parameter somewhat larger than predicted by calculations. However we found a marginal chemical strength in these nitrides. The material is destroyed by mild acid and basic solutions. Under annealing RuN decomposes abruptly for temperatures beyond 100 °C. Since the thermal stability correlates directly with the mechanical properties our finding cast doubts than the latter transition metal nitrides can be ultra-hard materials at ambient conditions.