Microscale processing techniques are rapidly emerging as a means to increase the speed of bioprocess design and reduce material requirements. Automation of these techniques can reduce labour intensity and enable a wider range of process variables to be examined. This article examines recent research on various individual microscale unit operations including microbial fermentation, bioconversion and product recovery techniques. It also explores the potential of automated whole process sequences operated in microwell formats. The power of the whole process approach is illustrated by reference to a particular bioconversion, namely the Baeyer-Villiger oxidation of bicyclo[3.2.0]hept-2-en-6-one for the production of optically pure lactones.