Industrial production of L-lactic acid, which in polymerized form as poly-lactic acid is widely used as a biodegradable plastic, has been attracting world-wide attention. By genetic engineering we constructed a strain of the Crabtree-negative yeast Candida boidinii that efficiently produced a large amount of L-lactic acid. The alcohol fermentation pathway of C. boidinii was altered by disruption of the PDC1 gene encoding pyruvate decarboxylase, resulting in an ethanol production that was reduced to 17% of the wild-type strain. The alcohol fermentation pathway of the PDC1 deletion strain was then successfully utilized for the synthesis of L-lactic acid by placing the bovine L-lactate dehydrogenase-encoding gene under the control of the PDC1 promoter by targeted integration. Optimizing the conditions for batch culture in a 5 l jar-fermenter resulted in an L-lactic acid production reaching 85.9 g/l within 48 h. This productivity (1.79 g/l/h) is the highest thus far reported for L-lactic acid-producing yeasts. DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank nucleotide database with Accession Nos. AB440630 and AB440631. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.