The reduction of guanine was studied by microelectrode voltammetry in the room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) N-hexyltriethylammonium bis (trifluoromethanesulfonyl) imide [N6,2,2,2][N(Tf)2], 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorosphosphate [C4mim][PF6], N-butyl-N-methyl-pyrrolidinium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide [C4mpyrr][N(Tf)2], 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide [C4mim][N(Tf)2], N-butyl-N-methyl-pyrrolidinium dicyanamide [C4mpyrr][N(NC)2] and tris(P-hexyl)-tetradecylphosphonium trifluorotris(pentafluoroethyl)phosphate [P14,6,6,6][FAP] on a platinum microelectrode. In [N6,2,2,2][NTf2] and [P14,6,6,6][FAP], but not in the other ionic liquids studied, guanine reduction involves a one-electron, diffusion-controlled process at very negative potential to produce an unstable radical anion, which is thought to undergo a dimerization reaction, probably after proton abstraction from the cation of the ionic liquid. The rate of this subsequent reaction depends on the nature of the ionic liquid, and it is faster in the ionic liquid [P14,6,6,6][FAP], in which the formation of the resulting dimer can be voltammetrically monitored at less negative potentials than required for the reduction of the parent molecule. Adenine showed similar behaviour to guanine but the pyrimidines thymine and cytosine did not; thymine was not reduced at potentials less negative than required for solvent (RTIL) decomposition while only a poorly defined wave was seen for cytosine. The possibility for proton abstraction from the cation in [N6,2,2,2][NTf2] and [P14,6,6,6][FAP] is noted and this is thought to aid the electrochemical dimerization process. The resulting rapid reaction is thought to shift the reduction potentials for guanine and adenine to lower values than observed in RTILs where the scope for proton abstraction is not present. Such shifts are characteristic of so-called EC processes where reversible electron transfer is followed by a chemical reaction. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.