Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been regarded as inevitable harmful by-products of aerobic metabolism. Growing evidence, however, suggests that ROS play important physiological roles. This raises questions about the pathways that different groups of organisms use to produce and sense ROS. In microbial eukaryotes, recent data show (i) increased ROS levels during cell differentiation, (ii) the existence of ROS-producing enzymes, such as NADPH oxidases (NOX), (iii) the involvement of NOX in developmental processes, and (iv) a conservation in the signal-transduction mechanisms used to detect ROS. This shows that manipulation of reactive species, as strategy to regulate cell differentiation, is ubiquitous in eukaryotes and suggests that such strategy was selected early in evolution.