The amino acid industry has been steadily expanding since monosodium glutamate was first marketed as a flavoring material in 1909. Its production has recently reached almost the 1 billion dollar level. Amino acids are produced by extraction from protein hydrolyzates, by fermentation with the aid of microorganisms, by enzymatic processes, and by chemical synthesis. To obtain natural L-amino acid, chemical synthesis generally requires two additional steps, i.e. optical resolution and racemization of the D isomer. The most important applications of amino acids include the fortification of plant food and feeds by supplementation of the deficient essential amino acid(s). Apart from their uses in the food industry, medical applications of amino acids (nutritional preparations and therapeutic agents) are becoming increasingly important.