The cyclooxygenase (COX) reaction of prostaglandin (PG) biosynthesis begins with the highly specific oxygenation of arachidonic acid in the 11R configuration and ends with a 15S oxygenation to form PGG2. To obtain new insights into the mechanisms of stereocontrol of oxygenation, we mutated active site residues of human COX-2 that have potential contacts with C-11 of the reacting substrate. Although the 11R oxygenation was not perturbed, changing Leu-384 (into Phe, Trp), Trp-387 (Phe, Tyr), Phe-518 (Ile, Trp, Tyr), and Gly-526 (Ala, Ser, Thr, Val) impaired or abrogated PGG2 synthesis, and typically 11R-HETE was the main product formed. The Gly-526 and Leu-384 mutants formed, in addition, three novel products identified by LC-MS, NMR, and circular dichroism as 8,9-11,12-diepoxy-13R-(or 15R)-hydro(pero)xy derivatives of arachidonic acid. Mechanistically, we propose these arise from a free radical intermediate in which a C-8 carbon radical displaces the 9,11-endoperoxide O-O bond to yield an 8,9-11,12-diepoxide that is finally oxygenated stereospecifically in the 13R or 15R configuration. Formation of these novel products signals an arrest in the normal course of prostaglandin synthesis just prior to closing of the 5-membered carbon ring, and points to a crucial role for Leu-384 and Gly-526 in the correct positioning of the reacting fatty acid intermediate. Some of the Gly-526 and Leu-384 mutants catalyzed both formation of PGG2 (with the normal 15S configuration) and the 13R- or 15R-oxygenated diepoxides. This result suggests that oxygenation specificity can be determined by the orientation of the reacting fatty acid radical and is not a predetermined outcome based solely on the structure of the cyclooxygenase active site.