Brevibacterium sp. CCZU12-1 with high nitrilase activity could effectively hydrolyze benzoyl cyanide into benzoylformic acid. After the culture optimization, the preferred carbon sources, nitrogen sources, and inducer were glucose (10 g/L), a composite of peptone (10 g/L) plus yeast extract (2.5 g/L), and ε-caprolactam (2.0 mM), respectively. After the reaction optimization, the optimum reaction temperature, reaction pH, organic cosolvent, and metal ion were 30 °C, 7.0, ethanol (2%, v/v), and Ca(2+) (0.1 mM), respectively. At biotransformation of 120-mM benzoyl cyanide for 24 h, the yield of benzoylformic acid reached 91.8%. Moreover, the microbial nitrilase from Brevibacterium sp. CCZU12-1 could hydrolyze various nitriles, and it significantly exhibited high nitrilase activity against benzoyl cyanide, 3-cyanopyridine, and α-cyclohexyl-mandelonitrile.