© 2014 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In this paper, we show that recently developed divergence-conforming methods for the Stokes problem have discrete stream functions. These stream functions in turn solve a continuous interior penalty problem for biharmonic equations. The equivalence is established for the most common methods in two dimensions based on interior penalty terms. Then, extensions of the concept to discontinuous Galerkin methods defined through lifting operators, for different weak formulations of the Stokes problem, and to three dimensions are discussed. Application of the equivalence result yields an optimal error estimate for the Stokes velocity without involving the pressure. Conversely, combined with a recent multigrid method for Stokes flow, we obtain a simple and uniform preconditioner for harmonic problems with simply supported and clamped boundary.