Diterpenoids are high value compounds characterized by high structural complexity. They constitute the largest class of specialized metabolites produced by plants. Diterpenoids are flexible molecules able to engage in specific binding to drug targets like receptors and transporters. In this review we provide an account on how the complex pathways for diterpenoids may be elucidated. Following plant pathway discovery, the compounds may be produced in heterologous hosts like yeasts and E. coli. Environmentally contained production in photosynthetic cells like cyanobacteria, green algae or mosses are envisioned as the ultimate future production system.