The progress made in the field of homogeneous catalysis during the last five to six years has led, inter alia, to the development of highly selective catalysts for asymmetric syntheses. Homogeneous asymmetric hydrogenation, using well defined transition metal catalysts, may be achieved with optical yields of 85 to 90% or more. Catalytic reactions, in which the chiral centers are generated by CC bond formation, can result in optical yields of 70 to 80%. The hydrogenation catalysts consist primarily of rhodium(I) complexes containing “Homer phosphanes”, phosphanes with chiral C atoms, or optically active amides. Catalysts which induce optical activity through the formation of CC bonds have been developed from π-allylnickel halides, Lewis acids, and phosphanes containing chiral C atoms. The results obtained signify a breakthrough in an area of catalysis previously restricted to syntheses involving enzymes.