A diastereoselective synthesis of cis-5-oxodecahydroquinolines is described in which three stereocenters are generated in a one-pot reaction. The reaction involves a lithium hydroxide-promoted Robinson annulation/intramolecular aza-Michael domino process from an achiral acyclic tosylamine-tethered β-keto ester. The development and scope of this reaction was facilitated through the use of DFT-based mechanistic studies, which enabled the observed diastereodivergent course of the azacyclization to be rationalized. The varying stereochemistry and stability of the resulting decahydroquinolines was found to depend on whether a β-keto ester or ketone were embedded in the substrates undergoing aminocyclization. This synthetic approach gave access not only to both diastereomeric cis-decahydroquinolines from the same precursor, but also to the corresponding trans isomers, through an epimerization processes of the corresponding N-unsubstituted cis-5-oxodecahydroquinolines. The described methodology provides advanced building-blocks with the three relative stereochemistries required for the total synthesis of phlegmarine alkaloids.