Multireference perturbation theory with complete active space self-consistent field (CASSCF) reference functions was applied to the study of the valence π to π* excited states of benzene and naphthalene. The eigenvectors and eigenvalues of CASSCF with valence π active orbitals satisfy pairing properties for the alternant hydrocarbons to a good approximation. The excited states of polyacenes are classified into the covalent minus states and ionic plus states with the use of the alternancy symmetry. The present theory satisfactorily describes the ordering of low-lying valence π to π* excited states. The overall accuracy of the present approach is surprisingly high. We were able to predict the valence excitation energies with an accuracy of 0.27 eV for singlet u states and of 0.52 eV or better for singlet g states of naphthalene. Our predicted triplet states spectrum provides a consistent assignment of the triplet-triplet absorption spectrum of naphthalene. For benzene we were able to predict the valence excitation energy with an accuracy of about 0.29 eV. The covalent minus states and ionic plus states exhibit different behavior as far as the electron correlation is concerned. The ionic plus states are dominated by the single excitations but covalent minus states include a large fraction of doubly excited configurations. The covalent minus states always give lower energy than the corresponding ionic plus states. This is true for triplet states. The dynamic σ–π polarization effects introduced by perturbation theory are significant for the ionic plus states while those on covalent excited states are usually of the same order as in the covalent ground state. The enlargement of the active space of the reference functions represents a great improvement of the description of the ionic states. The present approach with the pairing properties has proved to be of great value in understanding and predicting the experimental data of the alternant hydrocarbons.