A general synthesis of aryl ethers from primary and secondary alcohols and aryl mesylates is presented. The reaction proceeds via a sulfonyl-transfer mechanism. In this paper, we compare the sulfonyl transfer reaction to Mitsunobu ether formation. The reaction can be employed in a multistep synthesis where the aryl mesylate is used as a phenol protecting group and then as an activating group for ether formation. This protecting/activating group strategy is demonstrated using raloxifene as the target.