Abstract Measurements of inelastic scattering of 3He on 12C at E He = 72 MeV with excitation of low lying 2 +, 3 −, 0 + states of the target are reported. The data were analyzed both by DWBA and coupled-channels approximation, the latter leading to only minor changes, and we argue that nuclear rainbow effects are present. It is possible to reproduce the main features of the 2 + and 3 − inelastic angular distributions by means of the optical model potential previously selected for the reaction ( 3He, t) on 13,14C targets, only if the derivative excitation form factors are modified in the vicinity of the strong absorption radius. The fit is improved in detail and can be made nearly perfect if more flexible model-independent form factors are employed. An alternative potential is also discussed.