The similarities and differences in retention characteristics of aromatic and aliphatic phases have been elucidated by the use of linear solvation energy relationships (LSERs). Three aromatic phases and three aliphatic phases were investigated in a series of mobile phases. The results of LSERs on a polymer-based aromatic phase, poly(styrene-divinylbenzene) resin (PRP-1) are very different from those on either silica- or zirconia-based aromatic and aliphatic phases. Retention on all aromatic and aliphatic phases except PRP-1 is dominated by two factors: the solute size and hydrogen bond acceptor basicity. On the other hand, in addition to these two major contributions, retention on PRP-1 is markedly influenced by the solute hydrogen bond donor acidity. We believe that PRP-1 exhibits a more adsorption-like retention mechanism than do the other phases. With the inorganic oxide-based phases, the aromatic phases are less retentive than the aliphatic phases but show a larger dependence on molecular polarizability. The enhanced polarizability of aromatic phases is the likely cause of some differences in their chromatographic selectivity relative to the aliphatic phases.