The hydrogenation of biomass-derived ethyl lactate was studied over several ruthenium catalysts (Ru/TiO2, Ru/SiO2, Ru/γ-Al2O3, Ru/NaY and Ru/C), with the intent of developing a simple and additive-free catalytic system. The catalytic performance is dependent on the nature of the support. Ru/SiO2 was found to be an efficient catalyst for the hydrogenation of ethyl lactate to 1,2-propanediol (1,2-PDO). Parametric studies show that the reaction temperature, hydrogen pressure and catalyst amount can significantly influence the catalytic performance. Under optimal reaction conditions (433 K, 5 MPa), high yield of 1,2-PDO (82.1%) was obtained without the introduction of any additives. Form a practical point of view, this study may open the way to a new approach for the production of 1,2-PDO.