We have obtained near-infrared (H and K band at λ/Δλ ∼ 480 to 600) spectra of a sample of primitive objects including 2 Centaur objects (2060 Chiron and 5145 Pholus) and 16 P- and D-type asteroids. The spectra were obtained at the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope using the cooled grating spectrometer CGS4, and were used to search for chemically diagnostic vibrational features in these primitive objects. Pholus exhibits broad adsorption features at 2.07 and 2.27 μm, as well as a weak feature at 1.72 μm. The 1.72- and 2.27-μm features are similar to those seen in a laboratory tar sand sample. No distinct absorption features are found in other objects, including Chiron, which displays a spectrally neutral continuum. A comparison of the P- and D-type asteroid spectra with laboratory measurements of organic solids shows no compelling evidence for hydrocarbon overtones seen in terrestrial bituminous tar sands.