The synthesis and crystallographic characterization of a new family of M(μ-CN)Ln complexes are reported. Two structural series have been prepared by reacting in water rare earth nitrates (LnIII = La, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Dy, Ho) with K3[M(CN)6] (MIII = Fe, Co) in the presence of hexamethylenetetramine (hmt). The first series consists of six isomorphous heterobinuclear complexes, [(CN)5M-CNLn(H2O)8]·2hmt ([FeLa] 1, [FePr] 2, [FeNd] 3, [FeSm] 4, [FeEu] 5, [FeGd] 6), while the second series consists of four isostructural ionic complexes, [Ln(H2O)8][M(CN)6]·hmt ([FeDy] 7, [FeHo] 8, [CoEu] 9, [CoGd] 10). The hexamethylenetetramine molecules contribute to the stabilization of the crystals by participating in an extended network of hydrogen bond interactions. In both series the aqua ligands are hydrogen bonded to the nitrogen atoms from both the terminal CN groups and the hmt molecules. The [FeGd] complex has been analyzed with 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy, EPR, and magnetic susceptibility measurements. We have also analyzed the [FeLa] complex, in which the paramagnetic GdIII is replaced by diamagnetic LaIII, to obtain information about the low-spin FeIII site that is not accessible in the presence of a paramagnetic ion at the complementary site. For the same reason, the [CoGd] complex, containing diamagnetic CoIII, was studied with EPR and magnetic susceptibility measurements, which confirmed the S = 7/2 spin of GdIII. Prior knowledge about the paramagnetic sites in [FeGd] allows a detailed analysis of the exchange interactions between them. In particular, the question of whether the exchange interaction in [FeGd] is isotropic or anisotropic has been addressed. Standard variable-temperature magnetic susceptibility measurements provide only the value for a linear combination of Jx, Jy, and Jz but contain no information about the values of the individual exchange parameters Jx, Jy, and Jz. In contrast, the spin-Hamiltonian analysis of the variable-field, variable-temperature Mössbauer spectra reveals an exquisite sensitivity on the anisotropic exchange parameters. Analysis of these dependencies in conjunction with adopting the g-values obtained for [FeLa], yielded the values Jx = Ŝ1 · J · Ŝ2 +0.11 cm−1, Jy = +0.33 cm−1, and Jz = +1.20 cm−1 (convention). The consistency of these results with magnetic susceptibility data is analyzed. The exchange anisotropy is rooted in the spatial anisotropy of the low-spin FeIII ion. The condition for anisotropic exchange is the presence of low-lying orbital excited states at the ferric site that (i) effectively interact through spin-orbit coupling with the orbital ground state and (ii) have an exchange parameter with the Gd site with a value different from that for the ground state. DFT calculations, without spin-orbit coupling, reveal that the unpaired electron of the t2g5 ground configuration of the FeIII ion occupies the xy orbital, i.e. the orbital along the plane perpendicular to the Fe⋯Gd vector. The exchange-coupling constants for this orbital, jxy, and the other t2g orbitals, jyz and jxz, have been determined using a theoretical model that relates them to the anisotropic exchange parameters and the g-values of FeIII. The resulting values, jyz = −5.7 cm−1, jxz = −4.9 cm−1, and jxy = +0.3 cm−1 are quite different. The origin of the difference is briefly discussed.