Exposure of repressed growing cultures of Schizosaccharomyces pombe to various extracellular concentrations of NaCl, sorbitol or glycerol resulted in a reversible increase in neutral trehalase activity which was maintained while the cells were in the presence of high environmental osmolarity. Treatment of osmo-stress-induced trehalase by phosphatase lead to a decreased activity indicating that the active enzyme is phosphorylated. The stress response following the osmotic shock required protein synthesis and was independent of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase pathway. Cells disrupted for wis] or phh1 (identical to sty1 and spc1), which encode members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, showed that the osmo-stress-induced increase in trehalase markedly diminished. In contrast, the heat shock-induced increase in trehalase remained unchanged in these cells. Taken together, the data suggest that the elevation of trehalase activity in Schiz. pombe under conditions of high osmolarity is due to de novo synthesis of the enzyme and that this process is modulated through a MAPK signal transduction pathway as part of the physiological response to the osmotic stress. The wisl-phhl MAPK cascade, however, does not appear to form part of the mechanism underlaying the increase in trehalase after heat stress.