4-Oxo-3,4-dihydro-2-chromen-3-yl acetate is synthesized using manganese(III)acetate starting from 2,3-dihydro-4H-chromen-4-one. K2CO3 mediated hydrolysis of 4-oxo-3,4-dihdro-2-chromen-3-yl acetate furnished 3-hydroxy-2,3-dihydro-4H-chromen-4-one in high yield. The enantioselective hydrolysis of (+/-)-4-oxo-3,4-dihydro-2-chromen-3-yI acetate in various organic solvent-phosphate buffer (pH7) systems and enantioselective transesterification of (+/-)-3-hydroxy-2,3-dihydro-4H-chromen-4-one in organic solvents was investigated by screening a range of lipases. The lipase Amano PS, PPL, PLE and CCL-catalyzed asymmetric ester hydrolysis and transesterification afforded the enantiomers of 3-hydroxy-2,3-dihydro-4H-chromen-4-one and 4-oxo-3,4-dihydro-2-chromen-3-yI acetate with high enantiomeric excess (up to 97% ee) and in good yields. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.