Abstract High levels of intracellular trehalose in stationary-phase cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae or cells incubated in the absence of a nitrogen source were found to increase the resistance of the cells to dehydration. Exponential-phase cells showed negligible dehydration resistance. When stationary-phase cells were inoculated into fresh medium, trehalose was rapidly broken down, and this was correlated with a rapid loss of dehydration resistance. It appeared that a minimum internal concentration of 120 mM trehalose was required before there was a significant increase in dehydration resistance. Exogenous trehalose increased the dehydration resistance of S. cerevisiae: this effect was most marked for stationary-phase cells, where almost 100% survival was obtained at trehalose concentrations of 500 mM and above while maximum survival for exponential cells was less than 10%, even at 1000 mM external trehalose.