Saccharomyces cerevisiae as model system was used to evaluate the occurrence of resistant mutants and adaptation mechanism to mancozeb (MZ), a widespread fungicide of the dithiocarbamate class with a broad spectrum of action and multiple cell targets. We were unable to isolate mutants resistant to inhibitory concentration of MZ but found an unusually large number of mitochondrial defective petite mutants among cells incubated in the presence of subinhibitory MZ concentration. Similar results were obtained with two other dithiocarbamate fungicides. Comparison of wild type and petite mutants showed that the latter were more resistant to toxic effects of MZ, highlighting the role of mitochondria in MZ-tolerance. The data suggest that petite cells, arising by exposure to sub-inhibitory MZ concentration, are not induced by fungicides but are spontaneous mutants already present in the population before the contact with the fungicide.