Morphological changes in the cell surfaces of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (strain NCYC 1681), and the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe (strain DVPB 1354), in response to thermal and osmotic stresses, were investigated using an atomic force microscope. With this microscope imaging, together with measurements of culture viability and cell size, it was possible to relate topological changes of the cell surface at nanoscale with cellular stress physiology. As expected, when the yeasts were exposed to thermostress or osmostress, their viability together with the mean cell volume decreased in conjunction with the increase in thermal or osmotic shock. Nevertheless, the viability of cells stressed for up to 1 h remained relatively high. For example, viabilities were >50% and >90% for the thermostressed, and >60% and >70% for the osmostressed S. cerevisiae and Schiz. pombe, respectively. Mean cell volume measurements, and bearing and roughness analyses of atomic force microscope images of stressed yeasts indicate that Schiz. pombe may be more resistant to physical stresses than S. cerevisiae. Overall, this study has highlighted the usefulness of atomic force microscope in studies of yeast stress physiology.