The α-oxoaldehyde methylglyoxal is a ubiquitous and highly reactive metabolite known to be involved in aging- and diabetes-related diseases. If not detoxified by the endogenous glyoxalase system, it exerts its detrimental effects primarily by reacting with biopolymers such as DNA and proteins. We now demonstrate that during ketosis, another metabolic route is operative via direct non-enzymatic aldol reaction between methylglyoxal and the ketone body acetoacetate, leading to 3-hydroxyhexane-2,5-dione. This novel metabolite is present at a concentration of 10%-20% of the methylglyoxal level in the blood of insulin-starved patients. By employing a metabolite-alkyne-tagging strategy it is clarified that 3-hydroxyhexane-2,5-dione is further metabolized to non-glycating species in human blood. The discovery represents a new direction within non-enzymatic metabolism and within the use of alkyne-tagging for metabolism studies and it revitalizes acetoacetate as a competent endogenous carbon nucleophile.