It is recognized that there is a mathematics problem in chemistry, whereby, for example, undergraduate students appear to be unable to utilize basic calculus knowledge in a chemistry context - calculus knowledge - which would have been taught to these students in a mathematics context. However, there appears to be a scarcity of literature addressing the possible reasons for this problem. This dearth of literature has spurred the following two questions: (1) Can students transfer mathematical knowledge to chemistry?; and (2) What are the possible factors associated with students being able to successfully transfer mathematical knowledge to a chemistry context? These questions were investigated in relation to the basic mathematical knowledge which chemistry students need for chemical kinetics and thermodynamics, using the traditional view of the transfer of learning. Two studies were undertaken amongst two samples of undergraduate students attending Dublin City University. Findings suggest that the mathematical difficulties which students encounter in a chemistry context may not be because of an inability to transfer the knowledge, but may instead be due to insufficient mathematical understanding and/or knowledge of mathematical concepts relevant to chemical kinetics and thermodynamics. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.