Oxidation of the B-ring of abietane derivatives by Sharpless dihydroxylation gave the natural products 6-hydroxy-5,6-dehydrosugiol and 6-hydroxysugiol. Moreover, further oxidation gave a hydroxy dione derivative that provides a synthetic entry into the C-19 taiwaniaquinoid family of natural products. This route is based on biosynthetic considerations and involves a benzilic acid rearrangement followed by decarboxylation. On the basis of this approach, a total synthesis of (-)-taiwaniaquinone H and a formal synthesis of (-)-dichroanone have been achieved.