We have investigated changes in plasma-membrane fluidity in relation to NaCl concentrations in yeasts and yeast-like fungi that were isolated from either subglacial ice or hypersaline waters. In both of these natural environments, these organisms are exposed to low water activity, due to either high NaCl concentrations or low temperatures. Our data indicate that the fluidity of the plasma membrane can be used as an indicator of fitness for survival in extreme environments. Fungi that can survive in such extreme environments, such as Hortaea werneckii in the hypersaline waters of salterns, and Cryptococcus liquefaciens in subglacial environments, showed similar profiles of plasma-membrane fluidity in response to raised salinity. The same was seen for ubiquitous fungi, which are generally adapted for different types of stress, such as Aureobasidium pullulans and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. Representatives of both of these groups modulated their plasma-membrane fluidity differently. When salinity exceeded their optimal range, the ubiquitous stress-tolerant species (A. pullulans, Rh. mucilaginosa) showed increased plasma-membrane fluidity, whereas in the dominant extremophiles (H. werneckii, Cr. liquefaciens), it decreased. On the other hand, the plasma membranes of the fungi with a narrow ecological amplitude (Arctic A. pullulans and Rhodosporium diobovatum) showed different responses.