Fixing the 'Unexpected Token < in JSON at Position 2' Error: Comprehensive Guide and Solutions

The Unexpected Token < in JSON at Position 2 error is a common issue faced by developers working with JSON data. This error typically occurs when there is an issue with the JSON data being parsed. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the possible causes of this error and provide step-by-step solutions to help you resolve it.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Error

The Unexpected Token < in JSON at Position 2 error occurs when the JSON parser encounters an unexpected character while parsing a JSON string. In this case, the unexpected character is <, which is typically found in HTML files.

Before diving into the possible causes and solutions, it is essential to understand the structure of a valid JSON string. A JSON string is a data format that uses human-readable text to transmit data objects consisting of key-value pairs. A valid JSON string should start with a { (opening curly brace) and end with a } (closing curly brace).

Possible Causes and Solutions

Incorrect JSON Format

The first possible cause of the error is that the JSON data you are trying to parse is not in the correct format. To fix this issue, you need to validate the JSON data before parsing it. You can use online tools like JSONLint to validate your JSON data.


  1. Copy your JSON data and paste it into the JSONLint validator.
  2. Click the "Validate JSON" button.
  3. If the validator returns an error, fix the JSON data according to the suggestions provided.

Unexpected HTML Response

Another possible cause of the error is that the server is returning an HTML response instead of a JSON response. This can happen in cases where the server returns an error page (e.g., 404 Not Found) or a login page for authentication.


  1. Inspect the response from the server using browser developer tools or by logging the response to the console.
  2. If the response is an HTML page, identify the source of the issue (e.g., incorrect URL, authentication required).
  3. Update the server configuration or client-side code to ensure you receive a JSON response.

API Endpoint Error

If you are working with an API, the Unexpected Token < in JSON at Position 2 error may be caused by an issue with the API endpoint. This can happen when the API endpoint is incorrect or not configured properly.


  1. Verify the API endpoint URL and ensure it is correct.
  2. Check the API documentation for any specific requirements, such as headers, query parameters, or request methods.
  3. Update your API request accordingly to meet the requirements.

CORS Policy Error

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) is a security feature implemented by web browsers to restrict web pages from making requests to a different domain than the one that served the web page. If your request is being blocked by the browser due to a CORS policy error, it may result in the Unexpected Token < in JSON at Position 2 error.


  1. Verify if the server has CORS enabled and is configured to allow requests from your domain.
  2. If the server does not have CORS enabled, request the server owner to enable CORS and add your domain to the allowed origins.
  3. Alternatively, you can use a proxy server to bypass the CORS restriction. However, this method is not recommended for production use due to security concerns.


1. Can I ignore the 'Unexpected Token < in JSON at Position 2' error?

No, you should not ignore this error as it indicates that there is an issue with the JSON data being parsed. Ignoring the error may result in incorrect data being processed or your application becoming unstable.

2. Can this error occur with other unexpected tokens?

Yes, this error can occur with any unexpected token, not just the < character. The error message will indicate the specific unexpected token encountered during parsing.

3. How can I prevent this error from occurring in the future?

To prevent this error from occurring, always validate your JSON data before parsing, ensure server responses are in the correct JSON format, and verify API endpoints and CORS configurations.

4. Is there a way to catch this error and handle it gracefully in my code?

Yes, you can use a try-catch block to catch and handle the error gracefully. For example:

try {
  const parsedData = JSON.parse(jsonString);
} catch (error) {
  console.error('Error parsing JSON:', error.message);

5. Can this error occur in languages other than JavaScript?

Yes, this error can occur in any programming language that uses a JSON parser. The error message may vary slightly depending on the language and parser used.

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