Stationary phase Candida albicans yeast cells harbour properties of better adherence, virulence and elevated drug resistance. C. albicans stationary phase is not well characterized in vitro either physiologically or molecularly. C. albicans yeast cells were grown in rich medium with 2% glucose. Based on growth and DNA profiles of cells, and by measurement of glucose and ethanol in the medium, we defined the timing of C. albicans entry into different growth transitions. We found that, compared with 24 h cells, mRNA content was less abundant in post-diauxic shift phase and even less in stationary phase C. albicans cells. Further analysis of the C. albicans transcriptome with oligonucleotide-based microarrays revealed that although the overall mRNA content had decreased, transcripts of many genes increased in post-diauxic shift phase as well as stationary phase. Genes involved in processes such as gluconeogenesis, stress resistance, adherence, DNA repair and ageing were expressed at higher levels at and beyond post-diauxic shift phase. Many C. albicans genes associated with virulence, drug resistance and cell-wall biosynthesis were expressed only at stationary phase. By screening 108 C. albicans transcription factor and cell-wall mutants we identified 17 genes essential for either entry or survival in stationary phase at 30 degrees C.