Addition of ethoxalyl chloride (ClCOCOOEt) to terminal alkynes at 60 degrees C in the presence of a rhodium(I)-phosphine complex catalyst chosen from a wide range affords 4-chloro-2-oxo-3-alkenoates regio- and stereoselectively. Functional groups such as chloro, cyano, alkoxy, siloxy, and hydroxy are tolerated. The oxidative addition of ethoxalyl chloride to [RhCl(CO)(PR(3))(2)] proceeds readily at 60 degrees C or room temperature and gives [RhCl(2)(COCOOEt)(CO)(PR(3))(2)] (PR(3) = PPh(2)Me, PPhMe(2), PMe(3)) complexes in high yields. The structure of [RhCl(2)(COCOOEt)(CO)(PPh(2)Me)(2)] was confirmed by X-ray crystallography. Thermolysis of these ethoxalyl complexes has revealed that those ligated by more electron-donating phosphines are fairly stable against decarbonylation and reductive elimination. [RhCl(2)(COCOOEt)(CO)(PPh(2)Me)(2)] reacts with 1-octyne at 60 degrees C to form ethyl 4-chloro-2-oxo-3-decenoate. The catalysis is therefore proposed to proceed by oxidative addition of ethoxalyl chloride, insertion of an alkyne into the Cl--Rh bond of the resulting intermediate, and reductive elimination of alkenyl-COCOOEt.