In this article we report on the characterization of the enzymatic synthesis of D-xylulose 5-phosphate using triosephosphate isomerase and transketolase. Two potential starting substrates are possible with this scheme. The data presented here allow a comparison of both routes for the synthesis, based on experimental information on reaction kinetics. Operational guidelines are proposed which should assist in the scale-up of such syntheses. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2008;101: 761–767. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.