Density functional theory calculations have been employed to model the double C-Cl bond activation of CH(2)Cl(2) at [CoCl(PR(3))(3)] to give [CoCl(3)(CH(2)PR(3))(PR(3))(2)]. Calculations incorporating dichloromethane solution (PCM approach) on a [CoCl(PMe(3))(3)] model system showed the two C-Cl cleavage steps to involve different mechanisms. The first C-Cl cleavage step occurs on the triplet surface and proceeds via Cl abstraction with a barrier of 19.1 kcal mol(-1). Radical recombination would then give singlet mer,trans-[CoCl(2)(CH(2)Cl)(PMe(3))(3)] with an overall free energy change of +1.8 kcal mol(-1). Alternative C-Cl activation processes based on nucleophilic attack by the Co centre at dichloromethane with loss of Cl(-) have significantly higher barriers. The second C-Cl cleavage occurs via nucleophilic attack of PMe(3) at the CH(2)Cl ligand with formation of a new P-C bond and displacement of Cl(-). This may either occur in an intermolecular fashion (after prior PMe(3) dissociation) or intramolecularly. Both processes have similar barriers of ca. 12 kcal mol(-1). The comproportionation of [CoCl(3)(CH(2)PMe(3))(PMe(3))(2)] with [CoCl(PMe(3))(3)] to give [CoCl(2)(CH(2)PMe(3))(PMe(3))], [CoCl(2)(PMe(3))(2)] and 2 PMe(3) is computed to be strongly exergonic, consistent with the observation of this process in analogous experimental systems.