Chem. Eur. J.
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Cycloadditions of strained carbocycles promoted by Lewis acids are powerful methods to construct heterocyclic frameworks. In fact, the formal [3+2] cycloadditions of donor-acceptor (DA) cyclopropanes with nitriles has seen particular success in synthesis. In this work, we report on the first [4+2] cycloaddition of nitriles with DA cyclobutanes via Lewis acid activation. Tetrahydropyridine derivatives were obtained in up to 91% yield from various aryl activated cyclobutane diesters and aliphatic or aromatic nitriles.