The non-natural amino acid anti-1-amino-3-[18F]fluorocyclobutyl-1-carboxylic acid (FACBC) has shown promise for tumor imaging with positron emission tomography. An improved synthesis of the precursor of anti-[18F]FACBC has been devised which demonstrates high stereoselectivity and suitability for large-scale preparations. An automated radiosynthesis has been developed which provides anti-[18F]FACBC in 24% decay-corrected yield. Additionally, the major non-radioactive species present in doses of anti-[18F]FACBC has been identified as anti-1-amino-3-hydroxycyclobutane-1-carboxylic acid. Together, these results are important steps towards the routine production of anti-[18F]FACBC for human use.