Synthetic Biology is in a critical phase of its development: it has finally reached the point where it can move from proof-of-principle studies to real-world applications. Secondary metabolite biosynthesis, especially the discovery and production of antibiotics, is a particularly relevant target area for such applications of synthetic biology. The first international conference to explore this subject was held in Spain in October 2011. In four sessions on General Synthetic Biology, Filamentous Fungal Systems, Actinomyces Systems, and Tools and Host Structures, scientists presented the most recent technological and scientific advances, and a final-day Forward Look Plenary Discussion identified future trends in the field. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.