Many roles for sphingolipids have been identified in mammals. Available data suggest that sphingolipids and their intermediates also have diverse roles in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These roles include signal transduction during the heat stress response, regulation of calcium homeostasis or components in calcium-mediated signaling pathways, regulation of the cell cycle, and functions as components in trafficking of secretory vesicles from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi apparatus and as the lipid moiety in many glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins. S. cerevisiae is likely to be the first organism in which all genes involved in sphingolipid metabolism are identified. This information will provide an unprecedented opportunity to determine, for the first time in any organism, how sphingolipid synthesis is regulated. Through the use of both genetic and biochemical techniques, the identification of the complete array of processes regulated by sphingolipid signals is likely to be possible, as is the quantification of the physiological contribution of each.