The structure of 3-iodobenzaldehyde (3IB) was characterized by FT-IR, Raman and single-crystal X-ray diffraction techniques. The conformational isomers, optimized geometric parameters, normal mode frequencies and corresponding vibrational assignments of 3IB were examined using density functional theory (DFT) method, with the Becke-3-Lee-Yang-Parr (B3LYP) functional and the 6-311+G(3df,p) basis set for all atoms except for iodine. The LANL2DZ effective core basis set was used for iodine. Potential energy distribution (PED) analysis of normal modes was performed to identify characteristic frequencies. 3IB crystallizes in monoclinic space group P2(1)/c with the O-trans form. There is a good agreement between the theoretically predicted structural parameters, and vibrational frequencies and those obtained experimentally. In order to understand halogen effect, 3-halogenobenzaldehyde [XC6H4CHO; X = F, Cl and Br] was also studied theoretically. The free energy difference between the isomers is small but the rotational barrier is about 8 kcal/mol. An atypical behavior of fluorine affecting conformational preference is observed. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.