Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) [P(3HB)] and other polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) have been drawing much attention as biodegradable substitutes for conventional nondegradable plastics. For the economical production of P(3HB), various bacterial strains, either wild-type or recombinant, and new fermentation strategies were developed for the production of P(3HB) with high concentration and productivity. To reduce the cost of carbon substrate, several processes for P(3HB) production from cheap carbon sources were also developed. P(3HB) can now be produced to a content of 80% of cell dry weight with the productivity greater than 4 g/l per h. Fermentation strategy was also developed for the efficient production of medium chain length PHA by high cell density culture. With all these advances, P(3HB) and PHAs can be produced by bacterial fermentation at a cost (ca. $2/kg) similar to that of other biodegradable polymers under development. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.