Abstract The synthesis of spiro[4.4]nonane-1,6-diols via the catalytic as well as stoichiometric hydrogenation of spiro[4.4]nonane-1,6-dione was studied. Profound effects of the hydrogenation catalysts and reagents on the stereoselectivity of the products were observed. The choice of solvent also was found to have a significant influence on the product selectivity. The opening of a spiro-ring in the starting material was identified as a major side reaction in alcohol solvents. The absolute configuration of the trans, trans-diol was unambiguously determined by X-ray crystallography.