Casein kinase II (CKII) is a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase that is ubiquitous in eukaryotic organisms. This review summarizes available data on CKII of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, with a view toward defining the possible physiological role of the enzyme. Saccharomyces cerevisiae CKII is composed of two catalytic and two regulatory subunits encoded by the CKA1, CKA2, CKB1, and CKB2 genes, respectively. Analysis of null and conditional alleles of these genes identifies a requirement for CKII in at least four biological processes: flocculation (which may reflect an effect on gene expression), cell cycle progression, cell polarity, and ion homeostasis. Consistent with this, isolation of multicopy suppressors of conditional cka mutations has identified three genes that have a known or potential role in either the cell cycle or cell polarity: CDC37, which is required for cell cycle progression in both G1 and G2/M; ZDS1 and 2, which appear to have a function in cell polarity; and SUN2, which encodes a protein of the regulatory component of the 26S protease. The identity and properties of known CKII substrates in S. cerevisiae are also reviewed, and advantage is taken of the complete genomic sequence to predict globally the substrates of CKII in this organism. Although the combined data do not yield a definitive picture of the physiological role of CKII, it is proposed that CKII serves a signal transduction function in sensing and/or communicating information about the ionic status of the cell to the cell cycle machinery.