To examine the effect of trehalose accumulation on response to saline stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we constructed deletion strains of all combinations of the trehalase genes ATH1, NTH1 and NTH2 and examined their growth behaviour and intracellular trehalose accumulation under non-stress and saline-stress conditions. Saline stress was induced in yeast cells by NaCl addition at the exponential growth phase. All deletion strains showed similar specific growth rates and trehalose accumulation to their parent strain under non-stress conditions. However, under the saline stress condition, one single deletion strain, nth1Δ, two double deletion strains, nth1Δ ath1Δ and nth1Δ nth2Δ, and the triple deletion strain nth1Δnth2Δ ath1Δ, all of which carry the nth1Δ deletion, showed increased trehalose accumulation as compared to the parent and other deletion strains. In particular, our statistical analysis revealed that the triple deletion strain showed a higher growth rate under the saline stress condition than the parent strain. Moreover, some deletion strains showed further trehalose accumulation under non-stress conditions by overexpression of the TPS1 or TPS2 genes encoding the enzymes related to trehalose biosynthesis at the mid-exponential phase. Such increased trehalose accumulation prior to NaCl addition could improve the growth of these strains under saline stress. Our results indicate that high trehalose accumulation prior to NaCl addition, rather than after NaCl addition, is necessary to achieve high growth activity under stress conditions. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.