Methylglyoxal is the most important intracellular glycation agent, formed nonenzymatically from triose phosphates during glycolysis in eukaryotic cells. Methylglyoxal-derived advanced glycation end-products are involved in neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and familial amyloidotic polyneurophathy) and in the clinical complications of diabetes. Research models for investigating protein glycation and its relationship to methylglyoxal metabolism are required to understand this process, its implications in cell biochemistry and their role in human diseases. We investigated methylglyoxal metabolism and protein glycation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Using a specific antibody against argpyrimidine, a marker of protein glycation by methylglyoxal, we found that yeast cells growing on d-glucose (100 mM) present several glycated proteins at the stationary phase of growth. Intracellular methylglyoxal concentration, determined by a specific HPLC based assay, is directly related to argpyrimidine formation. Moreover, exposing nongrowing yeast cells to a higher d-glucose concentration (250 mM) increases methylglyoxal formation rate and argpyrimidine modified proteins appear within 1 h. A kinetic model of methylglyoxal metabolism in yeast, comprising its nonenzymatic formation and enzymatic catabolism by the glutathione dependent glyoxalase pathway and aldose reductase, was used to probe the role of each system parameter on methylglyoxal steady-state concentration. Sensitivity analysis of methylglyoxal metabolism and studies with gene deletion mutant yeast strains showed that the glyoxalase pathway and aldose reductase are equally important for preventing protein glycation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.