Twelve homo- and hetero-nuclear copper(II) complexes of tetradentate Schiff base ligands containing N-4 donor sets have been prepared by employing several steps. The characterization and nature of bonding of the complexes have been deduced from elemental analysis, FT-IR, molar conductivity, magnetic moment measurements and thermal analysis. The three Schiff base ligands were further identified using H-1 and C-13 NMR spectra. All copper(II) complexes are 1:2 electrolytes as shown by their molar conductivities (Lambda(M)) in DMF and paramagnetic. The subnormal magnetic moment values of the di- and tri-nuclear complexes explained by a very strong anti-ferromagnetic interaction. The extraction ability of the ligands has been examined by the liquid-liquid extraction of selected transition metal (Mn2+, Co2+, Ni2+, Cu2+, Zn2+, Pb2+, Cd2+, Hg2+) cations. The ligands show strong binding ability toward copper(II) ion. Furthermore the homo- and hetero-nuclear copper(II) complexes were each tested for their ability to catalyse the disproportionation of hydrogen peroxide in the presence of the added base imidazole. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.