The recent discovery of a coenzyme B12-dependent acyl-coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) mutase isomerizing 3-hydroxybutyryl- and 2-hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA in the mesophilic bacterium Aquincola tertiaricarbonis L108 (N. Yaneva, J. Schuster, F. Schäfer, V. Lede, D. Przybylski, T. Paproth, H. Harms, R. H. Müller, and T. Rohwerder, J Biol Chem 287:15502-15511, 2012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M111.314690) could pave the way for a complete biosynthesis route to the building block chemical 2-hydroxyisobutyric acid from renewable carbon. However, the enzyme catalyzes only the conversion of the stereoisomer (S)-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA at reasonable rates, which seriously hampers an efficient combination of mutase and well-established bacterial poly-(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) overflow metabolism. Here, we characterize a new 2-hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA mutase found in the thermophilic knallgas bacterium Kyrpidia tusciae DSM 2912. Reconstituted mutase subunits revealed highest activity at 55°C. Surprisingly, already at 30°C, isomerization of (R)-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA was about 7,000 times more efficient than with the mutase from strain L108. The most striking structural difference between the two mutases, likely determining stereospecificity, is a replacement of active-site residue Asp found in strain L108 at position 117 with Val in the enzyme from strain DSM 2912, resulting in a reversed polarity at this binding site. Overall sequence comparison indicates that both enzymes descended from different prokaryotic thermophilic methylmalonyl-CoA mutases. Concomitant expression of PHB enzymes delivering (R)-3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA (beta-ketothiolase PhaA and acetoacetyl-CoA reductase PhaB from Cupriavidus necator) with the new mutase in Escherichia coli JM109 and BL21 strains incubated on gluconic acid at 37°C led to the production of 2-hydroxyisobutyric acid at maximal titers of 0.7 mM. Measures to improve production in E. coli, such as coexpression of the chaperone MeaH and repression of thioesterase II, are discussed.