The optical properties and chemical characteristics of two thermally altered Pennsylvanian high volatile bituminous coals, the non-coking Danville Coal Member (Ro = 0.55%) and the coking Lower Block Coal Member (Ro = 0.56%) were investigated with the purpose of understanding differences in their coking behavior. Samples of the coals were heated to temperatures of 275????C, 325????C, 375????C and 425????C, with heating times of up to one hour. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro%) rises with temperature in both coals, with the Lower Block coal exhibiting higher reflectance at 375????C and 425????C compared to the Danville coal. Petrographic changes include the concomitant disappearance of liptinites and development of vesicles in vitrinites in both coals, although neither coal developed anisotropic coke texture. At 375????C, the Lower Block coal exhibits a higher aromatic ratio, higher reflectance, higher carbon content, and lower oxygen content, all of which indicate a greater degree of aromatization at this temperature. The Lower Block coal maintains a higher CH2/CH3 ratio than the Danville coal throughout the heating experiment, indicating that the long-chain unbranched aliphatics contained in Lower Block coal liptinites are more resistant to decomposition. As the Lower Block coal contains significant amounts of liptinite (23.6%), the contribution of aliphatics from these liptinites appears to be the primary cause of its large plastic range and high fluidity. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.