Ruthenium complexes containing the tetradentate 2,2′-bipyridine-6,6′-dicarboxylato (bda2–) equatorial ligand and ortho-subsituted pyridines in the axial position have been prepared and characterized using spectroscopic, crystallographic and electrochemical techniques. Complexes [Ru(Hbda)(DMSO)(pyC)] (1) and [Ru(bda)(DMSO)(pyA)] (2) (where pyC is 2-pyridinecarboxylate, pyA is pyridine-2-ylmethanol and DMSO is dimethyl sulfoxide) have been isolated in moderate to high yields. The solid state structures of (1-H)− and 2 reveal the strong chelate effect of the axial pyridine ligand that coordinates in a bidentate fashion leaving the bda2– equatorial ligand coordinating in a tridentate mode. In solution, compound 2 shows a dynamic equilibrium between different coordination modes of the bda2– and pyA ligands. This phenomenon does not occur for 1 because the carboxylate binds stronger than the labile alcohol in 2. Cyclic voltammetry analysis of 1 reveals a complex behavior with a pH-independent wave at E1/2 = 1.12 V that is tentatively associated with the two-electron RuIV/II couple. In sharp contrast, complex 2 shows a pH-dependent one-electron wave at E1/2 = 0.83 V (pH 1), assigned to the proton-coupled electron transfer process of the RuIII/II couple and a pH-independent wave at E1/2 = 1.06 V assigned to the RuIV/III couple. Compound 2 is used to prepare complex [Ru(bda)(pic)(pyA)] (4). This complex is air sensitive and converts to complex [Ru(bda)(pic)(pyE)] (5) (where pyE is methyl 2-pyridine carboxylate) in the presence of methanol. This oxidation also occurs by applying a positive potential to an aqueous solution of 4, producing the derivative [Ru(bda)(pic)(pyC)] (3). Cyclic voltammetry of 3 shows two pH-independent one-electron oxidation waves at E1/2 = 0.64 V and E1/2 = 1.0 V, corresponding to the RuIII/II and RuIV/III couples, respectively. In addition, a water oxidation catalytic wave appears at Eonset ≈ 1.4 V. Foot-of-the-wave analysis of this catalytic wave based on a water nucleophilic attack accounts for a TOFmax = 0.63–0.74 s–1.