Abstract The 1:1 and 2:1 complexes between water and trans- and cis-isomers of nitrous acid have been isolated in argon matrices and studied using FTIR spectroscopy and DFT(B3LYP) calculations with a 6-311++G(2d,2p) basis set. The analysis of the experimental spectra indicate that 1:1 complexes trapped in solid argon involve very strong hydrogen bond in which acid acts as the proton donor and water as the proton acceptor. The perturbed OH stretches are −248, −228 cm −1 red shifted from their free-molecules values in complexes formed by trans- and cis-HONO isomers, respectively. The calculated spectral parameters for the two complexes are in good agreement with experimental data. The calculations also predict stability of two more 1:1 weakly bound complexes formed by each isomer. In these the water acts as the proton donor and one of the two oxygen atoms of the acid as the acceptor. The experimental spectra demonstrate also formation of 2:1 complex between water and trans-HONO isomer in an argon matrix. The performed calculations indicate that the complex involves a seven-membered ring in which OH group of HONO forms very strong hydrogen bond with the oxygen atom of one water molecule and nitrogen atom acts as a weak proton acceptor for the hydrogen atom of the second water molecule of the water dimer. The observed perturbations of the OH stretch of trans-HONO (750 cm −1 red shift) is much larger than that predicted by calculations (556 cm −1 red shift); this difference is attributed to strong solvation effect of argon matrix on very strong hydrogen bond.