Redox signals provide important information on plant metabolism during development and in dependence on environmental parameters and trigger compensatory responses and antioxidant defence. The aim of the study was to characterize the redox and antioxidant status of photosynthesizing leaves under N, P and S deficiency on a comparative basis. Therefore, redox signals, indicators of the cellular redox environment and parameters of antioxidant defence were determined and related to general growth parameters, namely (1) transcript levels of all chloroplast encoded genes; (2) ascorbate and glutathione; (3) activities of catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX); and (4) transcript amounts of eight peroxiredoxins, three catalases and three ascorbate peroxidases. The results reveal distinct patterns of redox responses dependent on the type of nutrient deficiency. (1) Nitrogen deprivation caused up-regulation of psbA, psbC, petA, petG and clpP transcripts, down-regulation of psbG, psbK and ndhA, a five-fold increase in ascorbic acid, a severe drop in CAT and APX activities, although cat1 mRNA levels were increased in young and old leaves. (2) With the exception of psbA and psaJ transcripts, P-starvation induced a general trend to decreased mRNA abundance of plastome genes; ascorbate and glutathione levels were increased, as was the activity of APX and CAT. In accordance with that result, transcripts of all cat genes and stromal apx, as well as prxIIC, prxIID, were elevated under P deprivation. (3) Sulphur depletion increased transcripts of petA, petB, petD, petG, ndhJ and rpo-genes. mRNAs of psbG, psbK, atpA, atpB, atpE and atpF were decreased. Glutathione levels dropped to less than 25% of control, in parallel activities of APX were stimulated in young leaves. Transcripts of many antioxidant enzymes were unaltered or decreased, only cat2 mRNA was increased. It is concluded that N-, P- and S-nutrient deprivation trigger distinct redox changes and induce oxidative stress with a rather defined pattern in the context of nutrient-specific alterations in metabolism.