The discovery of the colocalization of catalase with H2O2-generating oxidases in peroxisomes was the first indication of their involvement in the metabolism of oxygen metabolites. In past decades it has been revealed that peroxisomes participate not only in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) with grave consequences for cell fate such as malignant degeneration but also in cell rescue from the damaging effects of such radicals. In this review the role of peroxisomes in a variety of physiological and pathological processes involving ROS mainly in animal cells is presented. At the outset the enzymes generating and scavenging H2O2 and other oxygen metabolites are reviewed. The exposure of cultured cells to UV light and different oxidizing agents induces peroxisome proliferation with formation of tubular peroxisomes and apparent upregulation of PEX genes. Significant reduction of peroxisomal volume density and several of their enzymes is observed in inflammatory processes such as infections, ischemia-reperfusion injury and hepatic allograft rejection. The latter response is related to the suppressive effects of TNFalpha on peroxisomal function and on PPARalpha. Their massive proliferation induced by a variety of xenobiotics and the subsequent tumor formation in rodents is evidently due to an imbalance in the formation and scavenging of ROS, and is mediated by PPARalpha. In PEX5-/- mice with the absence of functional peroxisomes severe abnormalities of mitochondria in different organs are observed which resemble closely those in respiratory chain disorders associated with oxidative stress. Interestingly, no evidence of oxidative damage to proteins or lipids, nor of increased peroxide production has been found in that mouse model. In this respect the role of PPARalpha, which is highly activated in those mice, in prevention of oxidative stress deserves further investigation.