Rasmol  -   Free Molecular Viewer for Chemistry and Biology

Rasmol is said to be the most popular 3D molecular graphics viewer in the world. It was written by Roger Sayle, with recent support from Glaxo Wellcome, and it is FREE. It is an excellent molecular modelling tool. It is particularly good at viewing and rotating protein molecules, although it also works perfectly with smaller molecules.     
Download Rasmol v2.6 (Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000) 

Download help files for Rasmol

Download a few starter pdb (molecule) files to try with Rasmol

For older computers, download  Rasmol for Windows 3.1

All of the above  files are stored as 'self extracting' files. After download, they must be run (double click on the file in Windows Explorer) to generate the programs/files for your use.

Molecule data is stored in pdb (protein data bank) files for viewing in Rasmol. Before you can view any molecules, you just download some pdb files; this is quick and easy (Sources of pdb molecule files).

Hints and Tips for using Rasmol  Definitely look here - some great mouse/keyboard shortcuts, not clearly documented in the program.

  Screenshot of Rasmol displaying butan-2-ol

'Viewing Molecules' worksheet for KS3 (UK); Grades 6-8 (US) uses Rasmol to introduce the concept of the molecule to young pupils. If you like it, simply print out the web page and use it with your pupils. You will need to download water, carbon, dioxide and methane pdb files (plus a range of  more complex but familiar compouds like caffeine, cholesterol, nicotine, TNT etc).

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100's of pdb (molecule) files for use with Rasmol

Many sites offer molecule pdb files for use with Rasmolbut most are poorly listed or difficult to access. The best source of pdb files that I have come across, for ease of access, is at Okanaga University College, British Columbia. This link is to the main index, but the individual listings are great because they provide background information/links for the compounds as well as the pdb files.

A couple of other good sites for downloading pdb files include MathMol Library (Well organised with an index on the left; includes water and methane)

The University of Quebec has detailed listings  (this is a French Canadian site, so bear with the French)

The State University College, Oneonta, NY  also has a fair selection of inorganic molecules (including carbon dioxide) and inorganic crystal structures.

Rasmol Homepage

Rasmol has a site of it's own with further details and a vast array of resources - but somewhat University oriented.

Visit the Rasmol homepage

Chime Web Viewer

Chime is a plugin for your browser that will allow you to view molecule structures on websites. Many Chemistry websites make use of this facility. However it is designed for Netscape (v3.0 and above) and may not give satisfactory results with Internet Explorer.

Rasmol and Chime compared

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copyright Ray Le Couteur       Last update March 2005