A new recyclable heterogeneous system is reported for reactions with a transition-metal catalyst in ionic liquid medium. It consists of a polymeric phase in which both the ionic liquid and the transition-metal catalyst are incorporated. The system is readily prepared by simple mixing of the components. In hydrogenations, the polymeric system always outperformed the 'classical' biphasic systems with ionic liquids and it could be re-used successfully without loss of activity. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.