Anisotropic electron spin resonance (ESR) spectra are reported for the radical anions of hexafluorocyclopropane (c-C3F6-), octafluorocyclobutane (c-C4F8-), and decafluorocyclopentane (c-C5F10-) generated via ?-irradiation in plastically crystalline tetramethylsilane (TMS) and rigid 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF) matrices. By combining the analysis of these experimental ESR spectra involving anisotropic hyperfine (hf) couplings with a series of quantum chemical computations, the geometrical and electronic structure of these unusual perfluorocycloalkane radical anions have been characterized more fully than in previous studies that considered only the isotropic couplings. Unrestricted Hartree-Fock (UHF) computations with the 6-311+G(d,p) basis set predict planar ring structures for all three radical anions, the ground electronic states being 2A2? for c-C3F6- (D3h symmetry), 2A2u for c-C4F8- (D 4h), and 2A2? for c-C5F 10- (D5h), in which the respective six, eight, and ten 19F-atoms are equivalent by symmetry. A successful test of the theoretical computation is indicated by the fact that the isotropic 19F hf couplings computed by the B3LYP method with the 6-311+G(2df,p) basis set for the optimized geometries are in almost perfect agreement with the experimental values: viz., 19.8 mT (exp) vs 19.78 mT (calc) for c-C 3F6-, 14.85 mT (exp) vs 14.84 mT (calc) for c-C4F8-, 11.6 mT (exp) vs 11.65 mT (calc) for c-C5F10-. Consequently, the same computation method has been applied to calculate the almost axially symmetric anisotropic 19F hf couplings for the magnetically equivalent 19F atoms: (-4.90 mT, -4.84 mT, 9.75 mT) for c-C3F6-, (-3.54 mT, -3.48 mT, 7.02 mT) for c-C4F 8-, and (-2.62 mT, -2.56 mT, 5.18 mT) for c-C 5F10-. ESR spectral simulations performed using the computed principal values of the hf couplings and the spatial orientations of the 19F nuclei as input parameters reveal an excellent fit to the experimental anisotropic ESR spectra of c-C3F6-, c-C4F8-, and c-C 5F10-, thereby providing a convincing proof of the highly symmetric Dnh structures that are predicted for these negative ions. Furthermore, using the computed 19F principal values and their orientations, the effective 19F anisotropic hf couplings along the molecular symmetry axes were evaluated for c-C3F 6- and c-C4F8- and successfully correlated with the positions of the characteristic outermost features in both the experimental and calculated anisotropic spectra. In addition, the electronic excitation energies and oscillator strengths for the c-C3F6-, c-C4F8-, and c-C5F10- radical anions were computed for the first time using time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) methods. © 2007 American Chemical Society.