Biocatalysis continues to emerge as a powerful technique for the efficient synthesis of optically pure pharmaceuticals that are difficult to access via conventional chemistry. The power of biocatalysis can be enhanced if two or more reactions can be achieved by a single whole cell biocatalyst containing a pathway designed de-novo to facilitate a required synthetic sequence. The enzymes transketolase (TK) and transaminase (TAm) respectively catalyze asymmetric carboncarbon bond formation and amine group addition to suitable substrate molecules. The ability of a transaminase to accept the product of the transketolase reaction can allow the two catalysts to be employed in series to create chiral amino-alcohols from achiral substrates. As proof of principle, the β-alanine: pyruvate aminotransferase (β-A:P TAm) from Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been cloned, to create plasmid pQR428, for overexpression in E.coli strain BL21gold(DE3). Production of the β-A:P TAm alongside the native transketolase (overexpressed from plasmid pQR411), in a single E.coli host, has created a novel biocatalyst capable of the synthesis of chiral amino alcohols via a synthetic two-step pathway. The feasibility of using the biocatalyst has been demonstrated by the formation of a single diastereoisomer of 2-amino-1,3,4-butanetriol (ABT) product, in up to 21% mol/mol yield, by the β-A:P TAm, via transamination of L-erythrulose synthesized by TK, from achiral substrates glycolaldehyde (GA) and β-hydroxypyruvate (β-HPA). ABT synthesis was achieved in a one-pot process, using either whole cells of the dual plasmid strain or cell lysate, while the dual alcohol-amine functionality of ABT makes it an excellent synthon for many pharmaceutical syntheses. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2007;96: 559–569. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.