Chlorine and bromine add to alkenes to give 1,2-dihaloalkanes. For example, 1,2-dichloroethane is synthesized by adding chlorine to ethene.

F 2 and I 2 are not used as reactants in this reaction. Fluor reacts explosively with alkenes and the addition of I 2 is thermodynamically unfavorable.

The mechanism of this reaction involves the formation of the bromonium ion in a first stage. In the second step, Br - acts as a nucleophile, opening the cycle of the bromonium ion to form a 1,2-dibromoalkane.