The relative antioxidant functions of thiol-dependent mechanisms and of direct catalytic inactivation of H2O2 were examined using a collection of yeast mutants containing disruptions in single or multiple genes encoding two major enzymatic sources of NADPH [glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (ZWF1) and cytosolic NADP+-specific isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDP2)] and in genes encoding two major cellular peroxidases [mitochondrial cytochrome c peroxidase (CCP1) and cytosolic catalase (CTT1)]. Both types of mechanisms were found to be important for growth in the presence of exogenous H2O2. In the absence of exogenous oxidants, however, loss of ZWF1 and IDP2, but not loss of CTT1 and CCP1, was found to be detrimental not only to growth but also to viability of cells shifted to rich medium containing oleate or acetate. The loss in viability correlates with increased levels of intracellular oxidants apparently produced during normal metabolism of these carbon sources. Acute effects in DeltaZWF1DeltaIDP2 mutants following shifts to these nonpermissive media include an increase in the number of cells demonstrating a transient decrease in growth rate and in cells containing apparent nuclear DNA strand breaks. Cumulative effects are reflected in phenotypes, including sensitivity to acetate medium and a reduction in mating efficiency, that become more pronounced with time following disruption of the ZWF1 and IDP2 genes. These results suggest that cellular mechanisms dependent on NADPH are crucial metabolic antioxidants.