The yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is the premier fungal cell factory exploited in industrial biotechnology. In particular, ethanol production by yeast fermentation represents the world's foremost biotechnological process, with beverage and fuel ethanol contributing significantly to many countries economic and energy sustainability. During industrial fermentation processes, yeast cells are subjected to several physical, chemical and biological stress factors that can detrimentally affect ethanol yields and overall production efficiency. These stresses include ethanol toxicity, osmostress, nutrient starvation, pH and temperature shock, as well as biotic stress due to contaminating microorganisms. Several cell physiological and genetic approaches to mitigate yeast stress during industrial fermentations can be undertaken, and such approaches will be discussed with reference to stress mitigation in yeasts employed in Brazilian bioethanol processes. This article will highlight the importance of furthering our understanding of key aspects of yeast stress physiology and the beneficial impact this can have more generally on enhancing industrial fungal bioprocesses.