An extension of crystal-field theory describing the properties of compounds of transition-metal ions or rare-earth ions in which covalent bonding between the surrounding molecules (see ligand) and the transition-metal ions is taken into account. This may involve using valence-bond theory or molecular-orbital theory. Ligand-field theory was developed extensively in the 1930s. As with crystal-field theory, ligand-field theory indicates that energy levels of the transition-metal ions are split by the surrounding ligands, as determined by group theory. The theory has been very successful in explaining the optical, spectroscopic, and magnetic properties of the compounds of transition-metal and rare-earth ions.