The effect of pH, aeration and mixing on the growth and production of carbonyl reductase by Candida viswanathii was investigated in a 6.6-l fermentor. Controlling the pH at 8.0 had a very significant effect on the enzyme production. Aeration and agitation influenced the dissolved oxygen concentration which in turn affected growth as well as enzyme production. A maximum carbonyl reductase activity (53 Umg(-1)) was attained in 24 h under the optimal cultivation conditions of controlled pH at 8.0, aeration rate 1 vvm and an agitation speed of 250 rpm at 25 degrees C. The enzyme activity was twice as high (56 Umg(-1)) in the fermentor as compared to a shake flask. Further, the duration of growth and enzyme production in the fermentor was shortened. Cells cultivated under the optimized conditions were used for the preparative scale reduction of N, N-dimethyl-(3-keto)-2-thienyl-propanamine to (S)-N, N-dimethyl-(3-hydroxy)-2-thienyl-propanamine, a key intermediate in the production of the important antidepressant drug (S)-duloxetine.