Preliminary X-ray analysis of molecules that have been designed to favor a carbon with five bonds seemed to suggest the possibility of a pentavalent intermediate in SN2 reactions, but further analysis of these structures showed just the opposite. Boron, however, can be pentavalent in such an environment. E2, SN1 and E1 mechanisms compete with the SN2 reaction. Factors controlling E2 eliminations are illuminated by kinetic isotope effects, stereochemistry, and regiochemistry. The competition between E2 and SN2 mechanisms influence the design of synthetic schemes, including those in which carbon nucleophiles play an important role. SN1 and E1 reactions involve carbocation intermediates and thus the possibility that the carbon skeleton will rearrange.