A cis-geometry was proposed for the green complex bis(β-mercaptoethylamine) nickel(II) on the basis of its reactivity, IR spectroscopy and orbital geometry considerations. The crystal and molecular structure of this complex has been determined by X-ray diffraction and shows that the complex has a trans geometry. The crystal structure consists of trans-NiL2 molecules strongly linked through NH-S hydrogen bonds. Electronic and IR spectroscopy, and powder X-ray analysis are in agreement with the same trans geometry for the complexes bis(β-mercaptoethylamine)palladium(II) and bis-(γ-mercaptopropylamine)nickel(II). As a result of the new assignment of the structure of these complexes some concepts, such as its reactivity with nickel(II), are reconsidered. © 1984.