Biodiesel, as one type of renewable energy, is an ideal substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel and is usually made from triacylglycerides by transesterification with alcohols. Biodiesel production based on microbial fermentation aiming to establish more efficient, less-cost and sustainable biodiesel production strategies is under current investigation by various start-up biotechnology companies and research centers. Genetic engineering plays a key role in the transformation of microbes into the desired cell factories with high efficiency of biodiesel production. Here, we present an overview of principal microorganisms used in the microbial biodiesel production and recent advances in metabolic engineering for the modification required. Overexpression or deletion of the related enzymes for de novo synthesis of biodiesel is highlighted with relevant examples.