Yeast cells often encounter a mixture of different carbohydrates in industrial processes. However, glucose and sucrose are always consumed first. The presence of these sugars causes repression of gluconeogenesis, the glyoxylate cycle, respiration and the uptake of less-preferred carbohydrates. Glucose and sucrose also trigger unexpected, hormone-like effects, including the activation of cellular growth, the mobilization of storage compounds and the diminution of cellular stress resistance. In an industrial context, these effects lead to several yeast-related problems, such as slow or incomplete fermentation, 'off flavors' and poor maintenance of yeast vitality. Recent studies indicate that the use of mutants with altered responses to carbohydrates can significantly increase productivity. Alternatively, avoiding unnecessary exposure to glucose and sucrose could also improve the performance of industrial yeasts.