Monascus species have been used to produce fermented rice called Monascus-fermented rice (MFR). To improve a Monascus strain via activation of secondary metabolite (SM) gene clusters for use in the production of MFR, we overexpressed an ortholog of the laeA gene, which encodes a global positive regulator of secondary metabolism under the control of the strong heterologous Aspergillus nidulans alcA promoter in Monascus pilosus. The OE::laeA transformant produced more SMs, including those not detected under uninduced conditions. MFR produced using the M. pilosus OE::laeA strain contained 4 times more monacolin K, a cholesterol-lowering agent, than MFR produced using the wild-type strain. In addition, pigment production was remarkably increased, and the antioxidant activity was increased as well. The results from this study suggest that Monascus species, which are important industrial fermentative fungi in Asia, can be improved for the production of functional foods by overexpressing the laeA gene.