Self-assembly of AB2 and AB3 type low molecular weight poly(aryl ether) dendrons that contain hydrazide units were used to investigate mechanistic aspects of helical structure formation during self-assembly. The results suggest that there are three important aspects that control helical structure formation in such systems with acyl hydrazide/hydrazone linkage: i) J-type aggregation, ii) the hydrogen-bond donor/acceptor ability of the solvent, and iii) the dielectric constant of the solvent. The monomer units self-assemble to form dimer structures through hydrogen-bonding and further assembly of the hydrogen-bonded dimers leads to macroscopic chirality in the present case. Dimer formation was confirmed by NMR spectroscopy and by mass spectrometry. The self-assembly in the system was driven by hydrogen-bonding and π-π stacking interactions. The morphology of the aggregates formed was examined by scanning electron microscopy, and the analysis suggests that aprotic solvent systems facilitate helical fibre formation, whereas introduction of protic solvents results in the formation of flat ribbons. This detailed mechanistic study suggests that the self-assembly follows a nucleation-elongation model to form helical structures, rather than the isodesmic model. © 2015 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.