The effects of Mn nutrition of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings on Mn-, Fe- and CuZn-superoxide dismutase (SOD, EC 22.214.171.124) enzymatic activities, metal translocation, chlorophyll concentration, and plant growth were tested using a bioassay system consisting of chelator-buffered nutrient culture with Mn2+ activities set to pMn (-log activity of Mn2+) of 6.6, 7.6, 8.6, and 9.6. The two middle levels resulted in optimal plant growth, whereas the two extreme levels resulted in a gradual decrease in chlorophyll concentration and slower plant growth. At the end of the experiment, 26 days after transfer to the Mn treatments, significant differences in shoot Mn concentration were manifested, from 10.5 mg kg(-1) in plants grown in pMn 9.6 to 207.4 mg kg(-1) in plants grown in pMn 6.6. Other element concentrations in the leaf suggest that growth inhibition and chlorophyll synthesis were affected primarily by manganese deficiency and excess. Twenty days after transfer of plants to the Mn treatments Mn-, Fe- and CuZn-SOD activities were assayed in young expanded leaf tissues by electrophoresis running gel. Whereas chloroplastic CuZn-SOD activity did not differ among Mn treatments, the cytosolic CuZn-SOD and mitochondrial Mn-SOD activities increased in both Mn-excess and Mn-deficient plants.