It has been known since the 1960s that lactic acid bacteria are essential for the development of cheese flavor. In the ensuing 50 years significant research has been directed at understanding the microbiology, genetics and biochemistry of this process. This review briefly covers the current status of cheese flavor development and then provides our vision for approaches which will enhance our understanding of this process. The long-term goal of this area of research is to enable technology (i.e. cultures and enzymes) that results in consistent rapid development of cheese variety-specific characteristic flavors.