The present invention is a process for the catalytic hydrogenation of ketones and aldehydes to alcohols at low temperatures and pressures using organometallic molybdenum and tungsten complexes. The functional group is selected from groups represented by the formulas R(C.dbd.O)R' and R(C.dbd.O)H, wherein R and R' are selected from hydrogen or any alkyl or aryl group. The active catalyst for the process has the form: [CpM(CO).sub.2 (PR*.sub.3) L].sup.+ A.sup.-, where Cp=.eta..sup.5 -R.sup..tangle-solidup..sub.m C.sub.5 H.sub.5-m and R.sup..tangle-solidup. represents an alkyl group or a halogen (F, Cl, Br, I) or R.sup..tangle-solidup. =OR' (where R'=H, an alkyl group or an aryl group) or R.sup..tangle-solidup. =CO.sub.2 R' (where R'=H, an alkyl group or an aryl group) and m=0 to 5; M represents a molybdenum atom or a tungsten atom; R*.sub.3 represents three hydrocarbon groups selected from a cyclohexyl group (C.sub.6 H.sub.11), a methyl group (CH.sub.3), and a phenyl group (C.sub.6 H.sub.5) and all three R* groups can be the same or different or two of the three groups can be the same; L represents a ligand; and A.sup.- represents an anion. In another embodiment, one, two or three of the R* groups can be an OR*.