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The strategic use of thiopyran templates to facilitate polypropionate synthesis was first demonstrated in Woodward's landmark total synthesis of erythromycin A in 1981 where the topology of a fused bicyclic system was exploited. In the ensuing three decades, various alternative strategic applications of thiopyran motifs to achieve key stereoselective transformations have emerged including, inter alia, unique substrates for chemoenzymatic syntheses, surrogates for 3-pentanone in enantioselective aldol reactions, and templates for enantiotopic group selective reactions. This review summarizes these developments.