2-Deoxyribose-5-phosphate aldolase (DERA, EC 126.96.36.199) catalyzes the reversible aldol reaction between acetaldehyde and D-glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate to generate D-2-deoxyribose-5-phosphate. It is unique among the aldolases as it catalyzes the reversible asymmetric aldol addition reaction of two aldehydes. In order to expand the substrate scope and stereoselectivity of DERA, structure-based substrate design as well as site-specific mutation has been investigated. Using the 1.05 A crystal structure of DERA in complex with its natural substrate as a guide, five site-directed mutants were designed in order to improve its activity with the unnatural nonphosphorylated substrate, D-2-deoxyribose. Of these, the S238D variant exhibited a 2.5-fold improvement over the wild-type enzyme in the retroaldol reaction of 2-deoxyribose. Interestingly, this S238D mutant enzyme was shown to accept 3-azidopropinaldehyde as a substrate in a sequential asymmetric aldol reaction to form a deoxy-azidoethyl pyranose, which is a precursor to the corresponding lactone and the cholesterol-lowering agent Lipitor. This azidoaldehyde is not a substrate for the wild-type enzyme. Another structure-based design of new nonphosphorylated substrates was focused on the aldol reaction with inversion in enantioselectivity using the wild type or the S238D variant as the catalyst and 2-methyl-substituted aldehydes as substrates. An example was demonstrated in the asymmetric synthesis of a deoxypyranose as a new effective synthon for the total synthesis of epothilones. In addition, to facilitate the discovery of new enzymatic reactions, the engineered E. coli strain SELECT (Deltaace, adhC, DE3) was developed to be used in the future for selection of DERA variants with novel nonphosphorylated acceptor specificity.