Sonogashira cross-coupling reactions of 4-ethynylmethylbenzoate (1) with aryl halides gave 1,2-bis(4-carbomethoxyphenyl)ethyne (2), 1,4-bis(4- carbomethoxyphenylethynyl)benzene (3), 1,4-bis(4-carbomethoxyphenylethynyl) tetrafluorobenzene (4) and 9,10-bis(4-carbomethoxyphenylethynyl)anthracene (5), protected precursors to conjugated rigid rod bis(carboxylato) ligands. The compound 1,4-bis(4-carbomethoxyphenyl)butadiyne (6) was prepared by the oxidative homo-coupling of 1. The hydrolysis of 2 and 3 by NaOH in methanol gave the sodium salts of the respective carboxylate anions and subsequent treatment with HCl gave the corresponding free carboxylic acids. Compounds 2-6 were characterised by absorption, emission, IR, NMR and mass spectrometry and examined for liquid crystal phase behaviour by differential thermal analysis (DTA) and transmitted polarised light microscopy (TPLM). Compound 4 exhibited a nematic phase stable from 233.6 °C until decomposition at 320 °C. The single-crystal structures of 2, 5 and 6 were determined by X-ray diffraction at 110-160 K. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2005.