This review describes the metabolic alterations and adaptations of yeast cells in response to osmotic stress. The basic theme of the cellular response is known to be exclusion of the extracellular stress agent salt and intracellular accumulation of the compatible solute glycerol. Molecular details of these basic processes are currently rather well known. However, analysis of expression changes during adaptation to salt has revealed a number of metabolic surprises. These include the induced expression of genes involved in glycerol dissimilation as well as trehalose turnover. The physiological rationale for these responses to osmotic stress is discussed. A model is presented in which it is hypothesised that the two pathways function as glycolytic safety valves during adaptation to stress.