The optimized geometrical structure, vibrational and electronic transitions, chemical shifts and nonlinear optical properties of 2-(4-hydroxyphenylazo)benzoic acid (HABA) compound were presented in this study. The ground state geometrical structure and vibrational wavenumbers were carried out by using density functional (DFT/B3LYP) method with 6-311++G(d,p) basis set. The vibrational spectra of title compound were recorded in solid state with FT-IR and FT-Raman spectrometry in the range of 4000-400 cm(-1) and 4000-10 cm(-1); respectively. The fundamental assignments were done on the basis of the recorded spectra and total energy distribution (TED) of the vibrational modes. The H-1 and C-13 NMR spectra were recorded in deuterated DMSO solution, and gauge-invariant atomic orbitals (GIAOs) method was used to predict the isotropic chemical shifts. The UV-Vis absorption spectra of the compound were observed in the range of 200-800 nm in ethanol, methanol and water solvents. To investigate the nonlinear optical properties, the polarizability, anisotropy of polarizability and molecular first hyper-polarizability were computed. A detailed description of spectroscopic behaviors of compound was given based on the comparison of experimental measurements and theoretical computations. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.