The structures of 6-ethoxy-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyrylium, 1, 6-ethoxy-2-methyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyrylium, 2, and 2-ethoxy-3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,8a-octahydro-1-benzopyrylium, 3, hexachloroantimonates have been determined by X-ray crystallography. In each case the tetrahydropyrylium rings exist in shallow half-chair conformations with the cationic centers C(6), C(5), O(1), and O(6) having a planar arrangement. The cations all have a Z conformation about the O(6)—C(7) bonds and it is shown that this conformation is also preferred in solution by comparison of narrow-line 13C NMR spectra in the solid state and solution. The O(1)—C(2) and O(6)—C(7) bond distances in 1–3 are significantly longer than those of comparable bonds in neutral esters. The length of the O(1)—C(2) bond is very dependent on substitution at C(2) suggesting a considerable fraction of the positive charge resides on this carbon as well as C(7). The closest cation/anion interactions present in the crystal lattices of these salts are between the chlorine atoms of the anion and the cationic center, C(6). These interactions provide information on the origin of the stereoselectivity observed in nucleophilic attack on these cations. The conformations, details of the C—O bonding, and closest contacts between cation and anion are discussed in terms of the concept of stereoelectronic control. Key words: 6-ethoxytetrahydropyrylium cations, lactonium salts, structure, X-ray, stereoelectronic control.