A comparative study has been made of the performance of differently substituted Ca-symmetric bis(aziridine) ligands in a variety of metal-mediated asymmetric reactions. The metals studied were osmium (dihydroxylation), palladium (allylic alkylation) and copper (cyclopropanation and aziridination), the ligands being chosen so as to allow evaluation of both electronic and steric effects. The electronic effects were most pronounced for complexes of palladium, which seem to bind rather loosely to this type of ligand. For the other metals, steric effects play a more important role. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.