Abstract The infrared spectrum of the water trimer trapped in solid neon has been identified. Eighteen groups of absorptions between 1600 and 11,000 cm −1 were assigned to one-, two- and three-quanta transitions of the intramolecular modes. Because of the near equivalence of the three molecules and their weak interactions most of these modes correspond to quasi degenerate vibrations involving the bending δ, free OH stretching (OH f) and bonded OH stretching (OH b) of the three subunits at 1608, 3725 and 3525–3473 cm −1, respectively. In the last case the 52 cm −1 splitting is due to the coupling between the OH b oscillators. Calculated anharmonic frequencies correctly agree with these observations and allow to propose a new assignment of the intermolecular modes. Finally combinations of intra + intermolecular transitions were identified and assigned on the basis of calculated anharmonicity coefficients.