This work reports on the synthesis and photophysical properties of novel unsymmetrically substituted monocarboxy magnesium (MgPc, 3), aluminum (ClAlPc, 4) and unmetallated (H(2)Pc, 5) phthalocyanines. Magnesium phthalocyanine (3) was converted into water soluble quaternized derivative (QMgPc, 6) by reaction with methyl iodide. The synthesized phthalocyanines were characterized by IR, UV-Vis, NMR, mass spectrometry and elemental analyses. Photophysical and photochemical studies were carried out in order to determine the potential of the complexes as photosensitizers for use in photodynamic therapy. Triplet quantum yields ranged from 0.37 to 0.40 and triplet lifetimes from 110 to 140 mu s in DMSO. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.