Laser flash excitations at 640 nm have been used to generate the transient spectra of the lowest-lying /sup 3/..pi pi../sup */ state of phthalocyaninatoruthenium(II) complexes. The properties of this excited state such as the properties of the maxima, lambda/sub max/ = 500 +/- 30 nm, and lifetimes, t/sub 1/2/ = 70-4500 ns, exhibit a large dependence on the electron-accepting and electron-withdrawing tendencies of the axial ligands. A similar influence was observed upon the rate of electron-transfer quenching of the /sup 3/..pi pi../sup */ state. Values between 10/sup 6/ and 10/sup 7/ dm/sup 3/ mol/sup -1/ s/sup -1/ for the self-exchange rate constant have been obtained, according to Marcus-Hush theoretical treatments, for (Ru(pc.)LL')/sup +//(/sup 3/..pi pi../sup */)(Ru(pc)LL') (L and L' = neutral axial ligands; pc = phthalocyaninate (2-)) and isoelectronic cobalt(III) and rhodium(III) couples. The redox properties of the ground and excited states are correlated with axial ligand-induced perturbations of the electronic structure.