IUPAC name
Systematic IUPAC name
Other names
Glyceric aldehyde
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.264 Edit this at Wikidata
  • InChI=1S/C3H6O3/c4-1-3(6)2-5/h1,3,5-6H,2H2 checkY
  • InChI=1/C3H6O3/c4-1-3(6)2-5/h1,3,5-6H,2H2
  • O=CC(O)CO
  • OCC(O)C=O
Molar mass 90.078 g·mol−1
Density 1.455 g/cm3
Melting point 145 °C (293 °F; 418 K)
Boiling point 140 to 150 °C (284 to 302 °F; 413 to 423 K) at 0.8 mmHg
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
☒N verify (what is checkY☒N ?)

Glyceraldehyde (glyceral) is a triose monosaccharide with chemical formula C3H6O3. It is the simplest of all common aldoses. It is a sweet, colorless, crystalline solid that is an intermediate compound in carbohydrate metabolism. The word comes from combining glycerol and aldehyde, as glyceraldehyde is glycerol with one alcohol group oxidized to an aldehyde.


Glyceraldehyde has one chiral center and therefore exists as two different enantiomers with opposite optical rotation:

Fischer projection D-glyceraldehyde L-glyceraldehyde
Skeletal formula D-glyceraldehyde L-glyceraldehyde
Ball-and-stick model D-glyceraldehyde L-glyceraldehyde

While the optical rotation of glyceraldehyde is (+) for R and (−) for S, this is not true for all monosaccharides. The stereochemical configuration can only be determined from the chemical structure, whereas the optical rotation can only be determined empirically (by experiment).

It was by a lucky guess that the molecular D- geometry was assigned to (+)-glyceraldehyde in the late 19th century, as confirmed by X-ray crystallography in 1951.[2]


In the D/L system, glyceraldehyde is used as the configurational standard for carbohydrates.[3] Monosaccharides with an absolute configuration identical to (R)-glyceraldehyde at the last stereocentre, for example C5 in glucose, are assigned the stereo-descriptor D-. Those similar to (S)-glyceraldehyde are assigned an L-.

Chemical synthesis

Glyceraldehyde can be prepared, along with dihydroxyacetone, by the mild oxidation of glycerol, for example with hydrogen peroxide[4] and a ferrous salt as catalyst.[citation needed]

Its cyclohexylidene acetal can also be produced by oxidative cleavage of the bis(acetal) of mannitol.[5]


The enzyme glycerol dehydrogenase (NADP+) has two substrates, glycerol and NADP+, and 3 products, D-glyceraldehyde, NADPH and H+.[6]

The interconversion of the phosphates of glyceraldehyde (glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate) and dihydroxyacetone (dihydroxyacetone phosphate), catalyzed by the enzyme triosephosphate isomerase, is an intermediate step in glycolysis.

See also


  1. ^ Merck Index, 11th Edition, 4376
  2. ^ Determination of the Absolute Configuration of Optically Active Compounds by Means of X-Rays Nature 168, 271-272 J. M. BIJVOET, A. F. PEERDEMAN & A. J. van BOMMEL doi:10.1038/168271a0
  3. ^ "22.03: The D and L Notation". Chemistry LibreTexts. 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  4. ^ Wu, Gongde; Wang, Xiaoli; Jiang, Taineng; Lin, Qibo (2015-11-27). "Selective Oxidation of Glycerol with 3% H2O2 Catalyzed by LDH-Hosted Cr(III) Complex". Catalysts. 5 (4): 2039–2051. doi:10.3390/catal5042039. ISSN 2073-4344.
  5. ^ Dhatrak, N. R.; Jagtap, T. N.; Shinde, A. B. (2022). "Preparation of 1,2:5,6-Di-O-cyclohexylidene-D-mannitol and 2,3-Cyclohexylidene-D-glyceraldehyde". Organic Syntheses. 99: 363–380. doi:10.15227/orgsyn.099.0363. S2CID 254320929.
  6. ^ Kormann, Alfred W.; Hurst, Robert O.; Flynn, T.G. (1972). "Purification and properties of an NADP+-dependent glycerol dehydrogenase from rabbit skeletal muscle". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Enzymology. 258 (1): 40–55. doi:10.1016/0005-2744(72)90965-5. PMID 4400494.