Stable isotope labeling of an intracellular chemical precursor or metabolite allows direct detection of downstream metabolites of that precursor, arising from novel enzymatic activity of interest, using metabolite profiling liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. This approach allows the discrimination of downstream metabolites produced from novel enzymatic activity from the unlabeled form of the metabolite arising from native metabolic processes within the cell. Even for the case in which a given product of novel enzymatic activity is a transient, the novel enzymatic activity that produced it can be demonstrated to exist indirectly by identification of product-specific downstream metabolites. Therefore, direct or indirect discovery of novel enzymatic machinery engineered within a cell can be accomplished without a requirement for direct product purification or identification. The application of this approach to confirm the presence of a novel metabolic activity, alanine 2,3-aminomutase, obtained by mutagenesis and selection are discussed. The advantages of metabolite profiling approaches to metabolic engineering in terms of accelerating enzyme discovery and development of intellectual property will also be highlighted.