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Growth and proliferation of microorganisms such as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are controlled in part by the availability of nutrients. When proliferating yeast cells exhaust available nutrients, they enter a stationary phase characterized by cell cycle arrest and specific physiological, biochemical, and morphological changes. These changes include thickening of the cell wall, accumulation of reserve carbohydrates, and acquisition of thermotolerance. Recent characterization of mutant cells that are conditionally defective only for the resumption of proliferation from stationary phase provides evidence that stationary phase is a unique developmental state. Strains with mutations affecting entry into and survival during stationary phase have also been isolated, and the mutations have been shown to affect at least seven different cellular processes: (i) signal transduction, (ii) protein synthesis, (iii) protein N-terminal acetylation, (iv) protein turnover, (v) protein secretion, (vi) membrane biosynthesis, and (vii) cell polarity. The exact nature of the relationship between these processes and survival during stationary phase remains to be elucidated. We propose that cell cycle arrest coordinated with the ability to remain viable in the absence of additional nutrients provides a good operational definition of starvation-induced stationary phase.