Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), the main auxin in higher plants, has profound effects on plant growth and development. Both plants and some plant pathogens can produce IAA to modulate plant growth. Although the genes and biochemical reactions for auxin biosynthesis in some plant pathogens are well understood, elucidation of the mechanisms by which plants produce auxin has proven to be difficult. So far, no single complete pathway of de novo auxin biosynthesis in plants has been firmly established. However, recent studies have led to the discoveries of several genes in tryptophan-dependent auxin biosynthesis pathways. Recent findings have also determined that local auxin biosynthesis plays essential roles in many developmental processes including gametogenesis, embryogenesis, seedling growth, vascular patterning, and flower development. In this review, I summarize the recent advances in dissecting auxin biosynthetic pathways and how the understanding of auxin biosynthesis provides a crucial angle for analyzing the mechanisms of plant development.