The identification of the CB2 cannabinoid receptor has provided a novel target for the development of therapeutically useful cannabinergic molecules. We have synthesized benzo[ c]chromen-6-one analogs possessing high affinity and selectivity for this receptor. These novel compounds are structurally related to cannabinol (6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pentyl-6 H-benzo[ c]chromen-1-ol), a natural constituent of cannabis with modest CB2 selectivity. Key pharmacophoric features of the new selective agonists include a 3-(1',1'-dimethylheptyl) side chain and a 6-oxo group on the cannabinoid tricyclic structure that characterizes this class of compounds as "cannabilactones." Our results suggest that the six-membered lactone pharmacophore is critical for CB2 receptor selectivity. Optimal receptor subtype selectivity of 490-fold and subnanomolar affinity for the CB2 receptor is exhibited by a 9-hydroxyl analog 5 (AM1714), while the 9-methoxy analog 4b (AM1710) had a 54-fold CB2 selectivity. X-ray crystallography and molecular modeling show the cannabilactones to have a planar ring conformation. In vitro testing revealed that the novel compounds are CB2 agonists, while in vivo testing of cannabilactones 4b and 5 found them to possess potent peripheral analgesic activity.