To aid in designing high-speed optical networks, the fundamental limitations of lightwave transmission systems are investigated from the viewpoint of fibre nonlinearities, particularly of stimulated Brillouin scattering (SBS). When SBS occurs, the fibre launch power is usually restricted; thus, SBS is detrimental to lightwave systems. The effects of SBS on signals transmitted in fibres are clarified for several modulation schemes, especially coherent modulation schemes. A generalized model based on the maximum power spectrum density in the signals is proposed to estimate the degree of SBS generation. The maximum repeaterless transmissions for various bit rates, laser diode linewidths, and Brillouin gains of optical fibres are presented. The degradation of transmission due to SBS is clarified experimentally, focusing on the bit error rate, fibre input power, and spectra of signals transmitted in fibres. In addition, various techniques for suppressing the SBS effects are proposed. A repeaterless transmission experiment conducted over 364.3 km using optical booster amplifiers is presented to verify the effectiveness of the SBS suppression technique.