Catalytic olefin metathesis has quickly emerged as one of the most often-used transformations in modern chemical synthesis. One class of catalysts that has led the way to this significant development are the high-oxidation-state alkylidene complexes of molybdenum. In this review key observations that resulted in the discovery and development of molybdenum- and tungsten-based metathesis catalysts are outlined. An account of the utility of molybdenum catalysts in the synthesis of biologically significant molecules is provided as well. Another focus of the review is the use of chiral molybdenum complexes for enantioselective synthesis. These highly efficient catalysts provide unique access to materials of exceptional enantiomeric purity and often without generating solvent waste.
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