Ester precursors of fluorogenic or chromogenic probes are often employed in studies of yeast cell biology. This study was aimed at a comparison of the ability of several commonly used laboratory wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains to hydrolyse the following model esters: fluorescein diacetate, 2-naphthyl acetate, PNPA (p-nitrophenyl acetate) and AMQI (7-acetoxy-1-methylquinolinum iodide). In all the strains, the esterase activity was localized mainly to the cytosol. Considerable differences in esterase activity were observed between various wild-type laboratory yeast strains. The phase of growth also contributed to the variation in esterase activity of the yeast. This diversity implies the need for caution in using intracellularly hydrolysed probes for a comparison of yeast strains with various genetic backgrounds.