This paper focuses on catalytical conversion of carbohydrates into lactic acid, under the hydrothermal conditions, which may have a promising future for its high speediness and effectiveness. The catalysis of ZnO was investigated to improve the lactic acid yields. The results showed that the lactic acid yields increased immensely by the addition of ZnO. The effects of the reaction time and the addition amount of ZnO on the conversion of carbohydrates to lactic acid were studied. The highest lactic acid yields reached up to 28% starting from glucose after the reaction time of 60 s under the conditions of 0.2 mmol ZnO, 300°C, the filling rate of 35%, and over 30% starting from fructose at the same temperature and filling rate when the reaction time of 40 s and 2.0 mmol ZnO were employed. The collaborative effects of ZnO and NaOH used as the catalysts together at the same time were also studied. Furthermore, the catalytic mechanism of ZnO in the hydrothermal conversion of carbohydrates into lactic acid was discussed.