A streamlined entry into the sesquiterpene lactone (SQL) cores of linearifolin and zaluzanin A is described. Stereochemistry is controlled through transformations uncovered by ISES (In Situ Enzymatic Screening). Absolute stereochemistry derives from kinetic resolution of 5-benzyloxypentene-1,2-oxide, utilizing a β-pinene-derived-Co(III)-salen. Relative stereochemistry (1,3-cis-fusion) is set via formal halometalation/carbocyclization, mediated by [Rh(O(2)CC(3)F(7))(2)](2)/LiBr. Subsequent ring-closing metathesis (RCM-Grubbs II) yields the title exomethylene-δ-lactone SQL cores. In complementary fashion, RCM with Grubbs-I catalyst provides the oxabicyclo[3.3.1]nonyl core of xerophilusin R and zinagrandinolide.