The alpha-acetoxylation of indanones and tetralones by using Mn(OAc)(3) followed by the enzyme catalyzed kinetic resolution of acetoxy ketones furnished both of the enantiomers of alpha-acetoxy ketones in good chemical and optical yields. The Baeyer-Villiger oxidation of alpha-acetoxy ketones with m-CPBA, CF(3)SO(3)H, and CH(2)O(2), at rt gives the corresponding lactones without racemization. The acetoxy ketone moiety migrates selectively in order to form lactones. The mild hydrolysis of lactones affords phenolic alpha-hydroxycarboxylic acid derivatives. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.