In this study the binary and ternary complexes of copper(II) with substituted 1,10-phenanthrolines [s-phen: 1,10-phenanthroline (phen), 4,7-dimethyl-1,10-phenanthroline (dmphen) and 5-nitro-1,10-phenanthroline (nphen)] and l-amino acids [aa: l-phenylalanine (phe), l-tyrosine (tyr) and l-tryptophan (trp)] have been investigated using potentiometric methods in 0.1 mol center dot L-1 KCl aqueous ionic media at 298.2 K. The protonation constants of the ligands and the stability constants of the binary and ternary complexes of Cu(II) with the ligands were calculated from the potentiometric data using the "BEST" software package. It was inferred that the aromatic 1,10-phenanthrolines act as a primary ligand in the ternary complexes, while the oxygen and nitrogen donor-containing amino acids are secondary ligands. The observed values of Delta log(10) K indicate that the ternary complexes are more stable than the binary ones, suggesting no interaction takes place between the ligands in the ternary complexes. The magnitudes of the measured stability constants of all of the ternary complexes are in the order [Cu(s-phen)(trp)](+) > [Cu(s-phen)(tyr)](+) > [Cu(s-phen)(phe)](+), which is identical to the sequence found for the binary complexes of Cu(II) with the amino acids. When the substituted 1,10-phenanthroline is changed, the stability constants of the ternary complexes decrease in the following order: [Cu(dmphen)(aa)](+) > [Cu(phen)(aa)](+) > [Cu(nphen)(aa)](+).