The Baeyer-Villiger reaction of p-anisaldehyde with peroxyacetic acid in nonpolar solvents to give p-anisylformate was examined on the basis of ab initio molecular orbital calculations. To explain the experimental observations, the free-energy change was evaluated for each case in the absence and in the presence of an acid catalyst. It was found that, without catalysts, the rate-determining step corresponds to the carbonyl addition of peroxyacetic acid to p-anisaldehyde and the reaction hardly occurs. Acetic acid was found to catalyze the carbonyl addition and change the rate-determining step from the carbonyl addition to the migration of the carbonyl-adduct intermediate. Trifluoroacetic acid was observed to catalyze both the carbonyl addition and migration, and the carbonyl addition was demonstrated to be a rate-determining step. The results provided a convincing explanation of the complex kinetics seen experimentally. Further calculations were performed for the reaction of benzaldehyde with peroxyacetic acid to give phenylformate. Migratory aptitude was found to depend on the catalyst. Isotope effects were also investigated, and the exceptional isotope effect observed experimentally was shown to be due to the rate-determining carbonyl addition caused by autocatalysis. It is concluded that the mechanism of the reaction varies with catalysis or substituent effects.