In this paper we examined the catalytic activity of in situ prepared bidentate azolium salt/[RhCl(COD)](2) catalyst system in the transfer hydrogenation of imines with i-propanol to the corresponding amine. The first in situ transfer hydrogenation of imines to amines is described using [RhCl(COD)](2) with bidentate azolium ligands. New bidentate azolium salts (1a-c, 2a-c) as NHC precursors have been synthesized and characterized. The in situ prepared three-component bidentate azolium salts (LHX)/[RhCl(COD)](2) and t-BuOK catalyzes quantitatively the transfer hydrogenation of imines under mild reaction conditions in i-propanol. The results show that bidentate benzimidazolium salts were observed to be more active in reducing imines. Moreover, the method is simple and effective against various imines. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.