A review with 147 references (mainly from 1998 - 2002) covering studies on the biocompatible and (bio)degradable polymers, derivatives of lactic acid (PLA) is presented. Future perspectives of the PLA polymers technology, economical aspect of their production and applications, particularly as the commodity thermoplastic material, were briefly discussed. Then, preparation of lactic acid (LAc) and lactide (LA), used as substrates for PLA synthesis, was described. Methods of the controlled synthesis of PLA, via polycondensation of LAc and ring-opening polymerization of LA, were discussed more in detaily. Mechanical and thermal properties, degradation pathways as well as the applications of PLA based materials were presented.