Many catabolic pathways begin with an ATP-requiring activation step, after which further metabolism yields a surplus of ATP. Such a 'turbo' principle is useful but also contains an inherent risk. This is illustrated by a detailed kinetic analysis of a paradoxical Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant; the mutant fails to grow on glucose because of overactive initial enzymes of glycolysis, but is defective only in an enzyme (trehalose 6-phosphates synthase) that appears to have little relevance to glycolysis. The ubiquity of pathways that possess an initial activation step, suggests that there might be many more genes that, when deleted, cause rather paradoxical regulation phenotypes (i.e. growth defects caused by enhanced utilization of growth substrate).