Broad bean (Vicia faba L.) plants were exposed, in duplicate controlled environment chambers, to charcoal/Purafil-filtered air (CFA-grown plants) or to 75 nmol mol(-1) ozone (O(3)) for 7 h d(-1) (O(3)-grown plants) for 28 d, and then exposed to 150 nmol mol(-1) O(3 )for 8 h. The concentration of ascorbate (ASC) was determined in leaf extracellular washing fluid (apoplast) and in the residual leaf tissue (symplast) after 0, 4 and 8 h acute fumigation, and after a 16 h "recovery" period in CFA. Changes in stomatal conductance were measured in vivo in order to model pollutant uptake, while the light-saturated rate of CO(2) assimilation (A:(sat)) was recorded as an indicator of O(3)-induced intracellular damage. Measurements of A:(sat) revealed enhanced tolerance to 150 nmol mol(-1) O(3) in plants pre-exposed to the pollutant compared with equivalent plants grown in CFA, consistent with the observed reduction in pollutant uptake due to lower stomatal conductance. The concentration of ASC in the leaf apoplast (ASC(apo)) declined upon O(3)-treatment in both CFA- and O(3)-grown plants, consistent with the oxidation of ASC(apo) under O(3)-stress. Furthermore, the decline in ASC(apo) was reversible in O(3)-grown plants after a 16 h "recovery" period, but not in plants grown in CFA. No significant change in the level and/or redox state of ASC in the symplast (ASC(symp)) was observed in plants exposed to 150 nmol mol(-1) O(3), and there was no difference in the constitutive level of ASC(symp) between CFA- and O(3)-grown plants. Model calculations indicated that the reaction of O(3) with ASC(apo) in the leaves of Vicia faba is potentially sufficient to intercept a substantial proportion (30-40%) of the O(3)entering the plant under environmentally-relevant conditions. The potential role of apoplastic ASC in mediating the tolerance of leaves to O(3) is discussed.