4-Cyano-2,3-dihydrofuran-3-carboxamides were obtained from the oxidative cyclization of 3-oxopropanenitriles with unsaturated amides using manganese(III) acetate. Treatment of 3-oxopropanenitriles with (2E)-3-(5-methyl-2-furyl)acrylamide and (2E)-3-(2thienyl)acrylamide gave 2-(5-methyl-2-furyl) and 2-(2-thienyl) substituted 4-cyano-2,3-dihydrofuran-3-carboxamides in moderate yields, respectively. However, (2E)-3-(2-furyl)acrylamide and (2E)-3-phenylacrylamide did not produce any product under the same conditions. On the other hand, reaction of a dienamide such as (2E,4E)-5-phenylpenta-2,4-dienamide with 3-oxopropanenitriles gave diastereomeric mixtures of 2-(2-vinylphenyl)-4-cyano-2,3-dihydrofuran-3-carboxamides. Mechanisms are proposed for the formation of all of these compounds. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.