Abstract Absorption spectrum of mercury dissolved in hexane and heptane in the region 280–180 nm was found to consist of three bands. These bands were assigned to the 1 S 0 → 1 P 1 transition (A band, λ = 254 nm), to the 1 S 0 → 3 P 2 transition (B band, λ = 226 nm) and to the 1 S 0 → 1 P 1 transition (C band, λ = 190 nm) of a mercury atom placed into a liquid cell. The B and C absorption bands of mercury in liquid solutions were observed for the first time. It was found that the A band and the C band have, respectively, distinct doublet and triplet structure, while the doublet structure of the B band is only slightly seen. The oscillator strengths of all three bands of mercury in solutions were estimated. The structure of the C, A and B bands of mercury in solutions most probably results from the removal of the degeneracy of the excited states 1 P 1, 3 P 1 and 3 P 2 of a mercury atom, placed into a cell of low symmetry.