Yeast cells can respond and adapt to osmotic stress. In our attempt to clarify the molecular mechanisms of cellular responses to osmotic stress, we cloned seven cDNAs for hyperosmolarity-responsive (HOR) genes from Saccharomyces cerevisiae by a differential screening method. Structural analysis of the clones revealed that those designated HOR1, HOR3, HOR4, HOR5 and HOR6 encoded glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (Gpd1p), glucokinase (Glk1p), hexose transporter (Hxt1p), heat-shock protein 12 (Hsp12p) and Na+, K+, Li(+)-ATPase (Ena1p), respectively. HOR2 and HOR7 corresponded to novel genes. Gpd1p is a key enzyme in the synthesis of glycerol, which is a major osmoprotectant in S. cerevisiae. Cloning of HOR1/GPD1 as a HOR gene indicates that the accumulation of glycerol in yeast cells under hyperosmotic stress is, at least in part, caused by an increase in the level of GPDH protein. We performed a series of Northern blot analyses using HOR cDNAs as probes and RNAs prepared from cells grown under various conditions and from various mutant cells. The results suggested that all the HOR genes are regulated by common signal transduction pathways. However, the fact that they exhibited certain distinct responses indicated that they might also be regulated by specific pathways in addition to the common pathways. Ca2+ seemed to be involved in the signaling systems. In addition, Hog1p, one of the MAP kinases in yeast, appeared to be involved in the regulation of expression of HOR genes, although its function seemed to be insufficient for the overall regulation of expression of these genes.