In this article, we advance the foundations of a strategy to develop a molecular mechanics method based not on classical mechanics and force fields but entirely on quantum mechanics and localized electron-pair orbitals, which we call quantum molecular mechanics (QMM). Accordingly, we introduce a new manner of calculating Hartree–Fock ab initio wavefunctions of closed shell systems based on variationally preoptimized nonorthogonal electron pair orbitals constructed by linear combinations of basis functions centered on the atoms. QMM is noniterative and requires only one extremely fast inversion of a single sparse matrix to arrive to the one-particle density matrix, to the electron density, and consequently, to the ab initio electrostatic potential around the molecular system, or cluster of molecules. Although QMM neglects the smaller polarization effects due to intermolecular interactions, it fully takes into consideration polarization effects due to the much stronger intramolecular geometry distortions. For the case of methane, we show that QMM was able to reproduce satisfactorily the energetics and polarization effects of all distortions of the molecule along the nine normal modes of vibration, well beyond the harmonic region. We present the first practical applications of the QMM method by examining, in detail, the cases of clusters of helium atoms, hydrogen molecules, methane molecules, as well as one molecule of HeH+ surrounded by several methane molecules. We finally advance and discuss the potentialities of an exact formula to compute the QMM total energy, in which only two center integrals are involved, provided that the fully optimized electron-pair orbitals are known. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.