Aspergillus oryzae OUT5048 and Fusarium roseum OUT4019 were found to be effective biocatalysts in the reduction of benzils to optically active benzoins. Easily available symmetrical benzil derivatives were reduced to the corresponding benzoins [(S)-2-hydroxy-1,2-diphenylethanones] by A. oryzae OUT5048 with tip to 94% ee and by F roseum OUT4019 with up to 98% ee, respectively. In this Work. first general method for whole-cell-mediated selective reduction of benzils to benzoins is reported. It is also shown that this method is applicable for benzils with both electron-withdrawing and electron-donating groups. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.