A novel PNP bis(secondary phosphine)pyridine pincer ligand, 2,6-bis(2-(phenylphosphino)phenyl)pyridine, has been prepared in high yield, and the properties of the doubly deprotonated form as a ligand in K 4(PNP)2(THF)6 and (PNP)Zr(NMe2) 2 have been investigated. The neutral PNP ligand has been isolated as a mixture of noninterconverting diastereomers, due to the presence of two chirogenic phosphorus atoms of the secondary phopshines, but coordination of the dianionic form to potassium and zirconium allows for isolation of a single diastereomer in near-quantitative yield. The structure of a bis(dimethylamido) zirconium(IV) derivative of the bis(phosphido)pyridine ligand and DFT calculations suggest that the phosphides do not π-bond to early transition metals, likely due to geometric strain and possibly orbital size mismatch between phosphorus and zirconium. As a result, the soft phosphides are prone to formation of insoluble oligomers with substantial bridging of the phosphido lone pairs to other zirconium centers. © 2010 American Chemical Society.