The synthesis of the title ligands N-benzothiazol-2-yl-benzamide (1), N-benzoxazol-2-yl-benzamide (2) and N-(1H-benzimidazol-2-yl)-benzamide (3) is described. The molecular structure of 1 confirms the localization of a hydrogen atom at the nitrogen atom of the benzamide group. The ligands form 2:1 metal chelates under deprotonization with Cu(II), Ni(II), Pd(II) and Zn(II). 3 gives a cationic silver(I) complex. The complexes were characterized by XPS, NMR, and FAB mass spectroscopy. The molecular structure of two complexes was determined. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science S.A.