Zinc(II) halides form a series of 1 : 1 and 1 : 2 complexes with neutral 2-pyridinecarboxylate esters, which act as bidentate nitrogen-oxygen donors, via reaction in alcohol solution. Compounds of formula [ZnX2(C5H4NCOOR)n] with n = 1 (X = Cl, R = Me, Et, Pri and X = Br, R = Et) and the whole series with n = 2 (X = Cl, Br, I and R = Me, Et, Pri) have been obtained. The crystal structures of five complexes, [ZnX2 (C5H4NCOOPri)2] (X = Cl, Br or I) and [ZnX2(C5H4NCOOMe)2] (X = Br or I), have been determined. In all cases the structure consists of discrete neutral monomeric units where the zinc atom has a distorted octahedral coordination to two halides, in cis disposition, and to two 2-pyridinecarboxylate ester ligands by means of the pyridine nitrogen and the carbonyl oxygen atoms. The degree of distortion from regular octahedral geometry is compared to closely related structures. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.