Racemic alpha'-acetoxy alpha,beta-unsaturated cyclopentanone and cyclohexanone have been resolved into the corresponding enantiomerically enriched alpha'-hydroxylated and acetoxylated compounds with 96-97% ee via PLE hydrolysis. Stereoselectivity in the palladium(II)-catalyzed reaction between the enantiomerically enriched alpha'-acetoxylated compounds and diazomethane has been investigated. In the alpha'-acetoxylated cyclopentenone, preferential cyclopropanation occurs in the anti-form, whereas alpha'-acetoxylated cyclohexenone affords both syn- and anti-products (syn:anti, 61:36%). The relative configuration of the products was determined by NOE experiments. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.