Various alkenes substituted at the 1,2-positions by 2-thiophenyl, 3-thiophenyl, and phenyl substituted by electron-withdrawing and electron-donating groups were treated with acetylacetone in the presence of Mn(OAc)(3) in acetic acid. In cases where the thiophene ring was connected at the C-2 carbon atom to the double bond, a single regioisomer was formed whereas in case of substitution at the C-3 positions two regioisomers were formed. Stilbene derivatives also gave two regioisomers under the same reaction conditions. However, 1-methoxy-4-(4-nitrostyryl)benzene provided a single cycloaddition product. The observed regioselectivity was discussed in terms of atomic charge distribution on the olefinic double bond carbon atoms. Furthermore, activation barriers for transition states were calculated. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.