We present a density functional theory (DFT) study of an osmium polypyridyl complex adsorbed on Au(111). The osmium polypyridyl complex [Os(bpy)(2)(P0P)Cl](n+) [bpy is 2,2'-bipyridine, P0P is 4,4'-bipyridine, n = 1 for osmium(II), and n = 2 for osmium(III)] is bound to the surface through the free nitrogen of the P0P ligand. The calculations illuminate electronic properties relevant to recent comprehensive characterization of this class of osmium complexes by electrochemistry and electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy. The optimized structures for the compounds are in close agreement with crystallographic structures reported in the literature. Oxidation of the complex has little effect on these structural features, but there is a substantial reordering of the electronic energy levels with corresponding changes in the electron density. Significantly, the highest occupied molecular orbital shifts from the metal center to the P0P ligand. The surface is modeled by a cluster of 28 gold atoms and gives a good description of the effect of immobilization on the electronic properties of the complexes. The results show that the coupling between the immobilized complex and the gold surface involves electronic polarization at the adsorbate/substrate interface rather than the formation of a covalent bond. However, the cluster is too small to fully represent bulk gold with the result that, contrary to what is experimentally observed, the DFT calculation predicts that the gold surface is more easily oxidized than the osmium(II) complex.