AbstractFifty-three algal cultures were isolated from freshwater lakes in Hainan, China. Four microalgal isolates were selected because they could be successfully cultivated at high density and demostrated a strong fluorescence after being stained with nile red. These cultures were identified as strains of Chlorella sp. C11, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii C22, Monoraphidium dybowskii C29, and Chlorella sp. HK12 through microscopic and 18S rDNA analysis. Under similar conditions, the lipid productivity of Chlorella sp. C11, Chla. reinhardtii C22, M. dybowskii C29 , and Chlorella sp. HK12 were 1.88, 2.79, 2.00, and 3.25 g L-1, respectively. Chla. reinhardtii C22 yielded a higher lipid content (51%), with a lower biomass concentration (5.47 g dwt L-1). Chlorella sp. HK12 reached a growth rate of 0.88 day-1 at OD540nm and yielded a biomass concentration of 7.56 g dwt L-1, with a high lipid content of 43%. Gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry analysis indicated that lipid fraction mainly comprises hydrocarbons including palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and linolenic acids. Our results suggest that Chlorella sp. HK12 is a promising species for biodiesel production, because of its high lipid productivity and a relatively high content of oleic acid.