Maleate is one of the most important dicarboxylic acids and is used to produce various polymer compounds and pharmaceuticals. Herein, microbial production of maleate is successfully achieved, to our knowledge for the first time, using genetically modified Escherichia coli. A synthetic pathway of maleate is constructed in E. coli by combining the polyketide biosynthesis pathway and benzene ring cleavage pathway. The metabolic engineering approach used to fine-tune the synthetic pathway drastically improves maleate production and demonstrates that one of the rate limiting steps exists in the conversion of chorismate to gentisate. In a batch culture of the optimised transformant, grown in a 1-L jar fermentor, the amount of produced maleate reaches 7.1 g L−1, and the yield is 0.221 mol mol−1. Our results suggest that the construction of synthetic pathways by combining a secondary metabolite pathway and the benzene ring cleavage pathway is a powerful tool for producing various valuable chemicals.