Water-soluble, deep cavitands serve as chaperones of long-chain diesters for their selective hydrolysis in aqueous solution. The cavitands bind the diesters in rapidly exchanging, folded J-shape conformations that bury the hydrocarbon chain and expose each ester group in turn to the aqueous medium. The acid hydrolyses in the presence of the cavitand result in enhanced yields of monoacid monoester products. Product distributions indicate a two- to fourfold relative decrease in the hydrolysis rate constant of the second ester caused by the confined space in the cavitand. The rate constant for the first acid hydrolysis step is enhanced approximately 10-fold in the presence of the cavitand, compared with control reactions of the molecules in bulk solution. Hydrolysis under basic conditions (saponification) with the cavitand gave >90% yields of the corresponding monoesters. Under basic conditions the cavitand complex of the monoanion precipitates from solution and prevents further reaction.