[Cu(L)(n)](2+) complexes of 1,2-dihexanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (L = D6PC) are formed upon electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) of an 8 mM solution of D6PC with 4 mM CuCl(2) in 10 mM ammonium acetate buffer, pH 6.1. The collision-induced dissociation (CID) reactions of the [Cu(L)(n)](2+) complexes were examined in a linear ion trap mass spectrometer. A rich fragmentation chemistry was observed, including: loss of a neutral ligand; intermolecular ligand-ligand S(N)2 methylation; metal ion induced ligand fragmentation via carboxylate abstraction; and phosphate abstraction. The dominant reaction channel depends on the size (n) of the complex. Thus loss of neutral ligand(s) is the sole reaction channel for n = 5-7. At n = 4, S(N)2 methylation and carboxylate abstraction start to compete with neutral ligand loss. At n = 2 the carboxylate abstraction and phosphate abstraction reactions dominate the CID spectrum. The carboxylate abstraction and phosphate abstraction reactions are likely to be driven via neighboring group pathways. PM3 calculations, carried out to compare competing neighboring pathways based on the relative stabilities of the product ions, suggest a preference for five-membered ring formation for ligand fragmentation involving both carboxylate and phosphate abstraction.