The chemical industry is currently undergoing a dramatic change driven by demand for developing more sustainable processes for the production of fuels, chemicals, and materials. In biotechnological processes different microorganisms can be exploited, and the large diversity of metabolic reactions represents a rich repository for the design of chemical conversion processes that lead to efficient production of desirable products. However, often microorganisms that produce a desirable product, either naturally or because they have been engineered through insertion of heterologous pathways, have low yields and productivities, and in order to establish an economically viable process it is necessary to improve the performance of the microorganism. Here metabolic engineering is the enabling technology. Through metabolic engineering the metabolic landscape of the microorganism is engineered such that there is an efficient conversion of the raw material, typically glucose, to the product of interest. This process may involve both insertion of new enzymes activities, deletion of existing enzyme activities, but often also deregulation of existing regulatory structures operating in the cell. In order to rapidly identify the optimal metabolic engineering strategy the industry is to an increasing extent looking into the use of tools from systems biology. This involves both x-ome technologies such as transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, and fluxome analysis, and advanced mathematical modeling tools such as genome-scale metabolic modeling. Here we look into the history of these different techniques and review how they find application in industrial biotechnology, which will lead to what we here define as industrial systems biology. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2010; 105: 439–460. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.