The expression of heterologous proteins may exert severe stress on the host cells at different levels. Depending on the specific features of the product, different steps may be rate-limiting. For the secretion of recombinant proteins from yeast cells, folding and disulfide bond formation were identified as rate-limiting in several cases and the induction of the chaperone BiP (binding protein) is described. During the development of Pichia pastoris strains secreting human trypsinogen, a severe limitation of the amount of secreted product was identified. Strains using either the AOX1 or the GAP promoter were compared at different gene copy numbers. With the constitutive GAP promoter, no effect on the expression level was observed, whereas with the inducible AOX1 promoter an increase of the copy number above two resulted in a decrease of expression. To identify whether part of the product remained in the cells, lysates were fractionated and significant amounts of the product were identified in the insoluble fraction containing the endoplasmic reticulum, while the soluble cytosolic fraction contained product only in clones using the GAP promoter. An increase of BiP was observed upon induction of expression, indicating that the intracellular product fraction exerts an unfolded protein response in the host cells. A strain using the GAP promoter was grown both on glucose and methanol and trypsinogen was identified in the insoluble fractions of both cultures, but only in the soluble fraction of the glucose grown cultures, indicating that the amounts and distribution of intracellularly retained product depends on the culture conditions, especially the carbon source. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.