Beauvericin, a cyclohexadepsipeptide ionophore from the entomopathogen Beauveria bassiana, shows antibiotic, antifungal, insecticidal, and cancer cell antiproliferative and antihaptotactic (cell motility inhibitory) activity in vitro. The bbBeas gene encoding the BbBEAS nonribosomal peptide synthetase was isolated from B. bassiana and confirmed to be responsible for beauvericin biosynthesis by targeted disruption. BbBEAS utilizes D-2-hydroxyisovalerate (D-Hiv) and L-phenylalanine (Phe) for the iterative synthesis of a predicted N-methyl-dipeptidol intermediate, and forms the cyclic trimeric ester beauvericin from this intermediate in an unusual recursive process. Heterologous expression of the bbBeas gene in Escherichia coli to produce the 3189 amino acid, 351.9 kDa BbBEAS enzyme provided a strain proficient in beauvericin biosynthesis. Comparative infection assays with a BbBEAS knockout B. bassiana strain against three insect hosts revealed that beauvericin plays a highly significant but not indispensable role in virulence.