We show that singlet oxygen is generated in asexual spores (conidia) from Neurospora crassa at the onset of germination. Oxidation of N. crassa catalase-1 (Cat-1) was previously shown to be caused by singlet oxygen (Lledías et al. J. Biol. Chem. 273, 1998). In germinating conidia, increased protein oxidation, decrease of total protein, Cat-1 oxidation and accumulation of cat-1 mRNA was detected. These changes were modulated in vivo by light intensity, an external clean source of singlet oxygen, and by carotene amount and content of coordinated double bonds. Conditions that stimulated singlet oxygen formation increased Cat-1 oxidation and accumulation of cat-1 mRNA. Germinating conidia from mutant strains altered in carotene synthesis showed increased levels of protein degradation, Cat-1 oxidation and accumulation of cat-1 mRNA. During germination Cat-1a was oxidized, oxidized Cat-1c-Cat-1e conformers disappeared and Cat-1a was synthesized de novo. Furthermore, spontaneous oxygen-dependent chemiluminescence increased as soon as conidia absorbed dissolved oxygen. Low-level chemiluminescence is due to photon emission from excited electrons in carbonyls and singlet oxygen as they return to their ground state. H2O2 added to conidia under Ar caused a peak of chemiluminescence and germination of 20% of conidia, suggesting that a hyperoxidant state suffices to start germination under anaerobic conditions. Taken together, these results show that singlet oxygen is part of a hyperoxidant state that develops at the start of germination of conidia, in consonance with our proposal that morphogenetic transitions occur as a response to a hyperoxidant state.