Optically active α-hydroxy acids derived from amino acids have been synthesized and polymerized into new biodegradable polyesters. The variety of functional side chains enables the design of positively charged, negatively charged, hydrophobic and hydrophilic chiral building blocks or any combination of these constituents. Hydroxy acids of 15 natural amino acids were prepared with retention of configuration using a straightforward and reliable method of diazotization of α-amino acids. Polyesters were synthesized from these hydroxy acids by a number of methods: direct condensation in bulk, microwave assisted synthesis and ring opening polymerization. The molecular weight of the prepared polymers ranges between 2000 to 5000Da for the direct condensation and the microwave methods, whereas the ring opening polymerization results in high molecular weight polymers (20000 to 30000Da). The polymers were analyzed for their optical activity (Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy), thermal properties (DSC), solubility, molecular weight and polydispersity (GPC), and aqueous degradation. These polymers were tested for their compatibility to neuronal cells growth and differentiation.