Proline excretion from proline overproducing strains of E. coli K12 has been studied as a model chemical production system. We have isolated proline overproducing mutants of E. coli and have shown that uncontrolled synthesis is not sufficient to cause excretion of this amino acid. An episomal mutation causing proline over production has been introduced into a series of otherwise isogenic strains that bear well defined, chromosomal lesions affecting the active uptake and catabolism of L-proline. A syntropism test reveals that L-proline is excreted by overproducing strains only if transport and/or catabolism are impaired. Dansyl derivatization and chromatographic analysis of culture supernatants shows that proline is the only amino acid excreted. Batch cultures of an excreting strain in an amino acid production medium yield culture supernatants containing 1 g proline/L, whereas no proline is detectable in supernatants derived from cultures of an overproducing strain with normal transport and catabolic activities. These data reveal that genetic lesions eliminating active uptake can be used to specifically enhance metabolite excretion.