The applicability of the reflectance micro-Fourier Transform infra-red spectroscopy (FTIR) technique for analyzing the distribution of functional groups in coal macerals is discussed. High quality of spectra, comparable to those obtained using other FTIR techniques (KBr pellet and transmission micro-FTIR), indicate this technique can be applied to characterizing functional groups under most conditions. The ease of sample preparation, the potential to analyze large intact samples, and ability to characterize organic matter in areas as small as 20 ??m are the main advantages of reflectance micro-FTIR. The quantitative aspects of reflectance micro-FTIR require further study. The examples from the coal seams of the Mist Mountain Formation, British Columbia show that at high volatile bituminous rank, reflectance micro-FTIR provides valuable information on the character of aliphatic chains of vitrinite and liptinite macerals. Because the character of aliphatic chains influences bond disassociation energies, such information is useful from a hydrocarbon generation viewpoint. In medium volatile bituminous coal liptinite macerals are usually not detectable but this technique can be used to study the degree of oxidation and reactivity of vitrinite and semifusinite.