Abstract Nuclear levels of 181Hf were investigated in the range up to 3 MeV excitation energy by (n,γ) and (d,p) reactions. Over 170 levels and about 390 γ-transitions were established most of them for the first time. 25 rotational bands were identified. Comparison of the results of the two reactions yields information on the fine structure in the fragmentation of Nilsson strength. The states below 2 MeV with the most complete spectroscopic information were interpreted in terms of the Quasiparticle Phonon Model (QPM). Excitation energies, electromagnetic transition rates, γ-branchings and spectroscopic factors are discussed in connection with their possible structure.