Response surface methodology was employed to optimize the composition of medium for the production of avermectin B1a by Streptomyces avermitilis 14-12A in shaker flask cultivation. Corn starch and yeast extract were found to have significant effects on avermectin B1a production by the Plackett-Burman design. The steepest ascent method was used to access the optimal region of the medium composition, followed by an application of response surface. The analysis revealed that the optimum values of the tested variables were 149.57 g/l corn starch and 8.92 g/l yeast extract. A production of 5128 mg/l, which was in agreement with the prediction, was observed in verification experiment. In comparison to the production of original level (3528 mg/l), 1.45-fold increase had been obtained.