The effect of a single water molecule on the reaction mechanism of the gas-phase reaction between formic acid and the hydroxyl radical was investigated with high-level quantum mechanical calculations using DFT–B3LYP, MP2 and CCSD(T) theoretical approaches in concert with the 6-311+G(2df,2p) and aug-cc-pVTZ basis sets. The reaction between HCOOH and HO has a very complex mechanism involving a proton-coupled electron transfer process (pcet), two hydrogen-atom transfer reactions (hat) and a double proton transfer process (dpt). The hydroxyl radical predominantly abstracts the acidic hydrogen of formic acid through a pcet mechanism. A single water molecule affects each one of these reaction mechanisms in different ways, depending on the way the water interacts. Very interesting is also the fact that our calculations predict that the participation of a single water molecule results in the abstraction of the formyl hydrogen of formic acid through a hydrogen atom transfer process (hat).