Nitrogen mustards were first synthesised in the 1930s as potential chemical warfare weapons, to have greater systemic toxicity than sulphur mustard. American and German defence organisations started military production in 1941 and 1943.
In 1886, German chemist Victor Meyer made the first reliable synthesis of pure Sulphur Mustard. The purity of this compound was high and consequently the adverse health effects upon exposure were also severe. Meyer tested this compound on laboratory rabbits, most of which died.