Substitution of one of the phenyl groups of triphenylphosphine with a 2-benzyloxy-, 2-benzyloxymethyl- or 2-benzyloxyethyl-phenyl moiety results in a set of simple ligands, which exhibit strikingly different behaviour in various nickel(II)-catalyzed olefin dimerization reactions. Complexes of ligands with 2-benzyloxyphenyl-, 2-benzyloxymethylphenyl-diphenylphosphine (L5andL6respectively) are most active for hydrovinylation (HV) of vinylarenes, with the former leading to extensive isomerization of the primary 3-aryl-1-butenes into the conjugated 2-aryl-2-butenes even at ?55 °C. However, 2-benzyloxymethyl-substituted ligandL6is slightly less active, leading up to quantitative yields of the primary products of HV at ambient temperature with no trace of isomerization, thus providing the best option for a practical synthesis of these compounds. In sharp contrast, hydrovinylation of a variety of 1,3-dienes is best catalyzed by nickel(II)-complexes of 2-benzyloxyphenyldiphenylphosphine,L5. The other two ligands, 2-benzyloxymethyl-(L6) and 2-benzyloxyethyl-diphenylphosphine (L7) are much less effective in the HV of 1,3-dienes. Nickel(II)-catalyzed cycloisomerization of 1,6-dienes into methylenecyclopentanes, a reaction mechanistically related to the other hydrovinylation reactions, is also uniquely effected by nickel(II)-complexes ofL5, but not ofL6orL7. In an attempt to prepare authentic samples of the methylencyclohexane products, nickel(II)-complexes ofN-heterocyclic carbene-ligands were examined. In sharp contrast to the phosphines, which give the methylenecyclopentanes, methylenecyclohexanes are the major products in the (N-heterocyclic carbene)nickel(II)-mediated reactions.