The structural gene yqhD from a wild-type Escherichia coli encoding 1,3-propanediol oxidoreductase isoenzyme and the structural gene dhaB from Citrobacter freundii encoding glycerol dehydratase were amplified by using the PCR method. The temperature control expression vector pHsh harboring the yqhD and dhaB genes was transformed into E. coli JM109 to yield the recombinant strain E. coli JM109 (pHsh-dhaB-yqhD). The response surface method (RSM) was then applied to further optimize the fermentation condition of the recombinant strain. A mathematical model was then developed to show the effect of each medium composition and their interactions on the production of 1,3-propanediol by recombinant strain E. coli JM109. The model estimated that a maximal yield of 1,3-propanediol (43.86 g/l) could be obtained when the concentrations of glycerol, yeast extract and vitamin B12were set at 61.8 g/l, 6.2 g/l and 49 mg/l, respectively; and the fermentation time was 30 h. These predicted values were also verified by validation experiments. Compared with the values obtained by other runs in the experimental design, the optimized medium resulted in a significant increase in the yield of 1,3-propanediol. The yield and productivity under the optimal parameters and process can reach 43.1 g/l and 1.54 g/l/h. Maximum 1,3-propanediol yield of 41.1 g/l was achieved in a 5-l fermenter using the optimized medium. This makes the engineered strain have potential application in the conversion of glycerol to 1,3-propanediol on an industrial scale.