In traditional cell-free protein synthesis reactions, the energy source (typically phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) or creatine phosphate) is the most expensive substrate. However, for most biotechnology applications glucose is the preferred commercial substrate. Previous attempts to use glucose in cell-free protein synthesis reactions have been unsuccessful. We have now developed a cell-free protein synthesis reaction where PEP is replaced by either glucose or glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) as the energy source, thus allowing these reactions to compete more effectively with in vivo protein production technologies. We demonstrate high protein yields in a simple batch-format reaction through pH control and alleviation of phosphate limitation. G6P reactions can produce high protein levels (∼700 μg/mL of chloramphenical acetyl transferase (CAT)) when pH is stabilized through replacement of the HEPES buffer with Bis-Tris. Protein synthesis with glucose as an energy source is also possible, and CAT yields of ∼550 μg/mL are seen when both 10 mM phosphate is added to alleviate phosphate limitations and the Bis-Tris buffer concentration is increased to stabilize pH. By following radioactivity from [U-14C]-glucose, we find that glucose is primarily metabolized to the anaerobic products, acetate and lactate. The ability to use glucose as an energy source in cell-free reactions is important not only for inexpensive ATP generation during protein synthesis, but also as an example of how complex biological systems can be understood and exploited through cell-free biology. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.