Hydroxyphenylpyruvate reductase (HPPR) is an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of rosmarinic acid in Lamiaceae reducing hydroxyphenylpyruvates in dependence of NAD(P)H to the corresponding hydroxyphenyllactates. The HPPR protein was purified from suspension cells of Coleus blumei accumulating high levels of rosmarinic acid by ammonium sulfate precipitation, anion exchange chromatography, hydroxylapatite chromatography, chromatography on 2',5'-ADP-Sepharose 4B and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The protein was tryptically digested and the peptides sequenced. Sequence information was used to isolate a full-length cDNA-clone for HPPR (EMBL accession number AJ507733) by RT-PCR, screening of a C. blumei cDNA-library and 5'-RACE-PCR. The open reading frame of the HPPR-cDNA consists of 939 nucleotides encoding a protein of 313 amino acid residues. The sequence showed that HPPR belongs to the family of D-isomer-specific 2-hydroxyacid dehydrogenases. The HPPR-cDNA was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli and the protein was shown to catalyse the NAD(P)H-dependent reduction of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate to 4-hydroxyphenyllactate and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpyruvate to 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactate.