There is increasing evidence that oxidative stress is implicated in the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Several important factors contribute to augmented oxidative stress in the newborn and especially the preterm infant: first, because of its immaturity, the lung of preterm infants is frequently exposed to oxygen therapy and hyperoxia. Second, the antioxidant defense and its ability to be induced during an hyperoxic challenge are impaired. Third, the preterm infant has an increased susceptibility to infection and inflammation, which increases oxidative stress. Fourth, free iron, which catalyzes the production of toxic reactive oxygen species, can be detected in preterm infants. The molecular and cellular mechanisms for free radical-induced injury are now understood in more detail, and it is clear that oxidative stress plays an important role in triggering apoptosis, in serving as second messenger and in signal transduction. This new insight might lead to novel and efficient therapies. So far, there has been no significant breakthrough regarding antioxidant therapies. Care should, however, be exercised in supplementing the preterm infant with antioxidants since this may affect growth and development.