The authors analyzed a suite of leaf characteristics that might help to explain the difference between ozone-sensitive and ozone-tolerant hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L. x Populus tremuloides Michx.) clones. An open-field experiment comprising ambient ozone and 1.5x ambient ozone concentration (about 35 ppb) and two soil nitrogen regimes (60 and 140 kg N ha(-1) year(-1)) was conducted over two growing seasons on potted plants of eight hybrid aspen clones. Four of the clones had previously been determined to be ozone sensitive based on impaired growth in response to elevated ozone concentration. Photosynthetic rate, chlorophyll fluorescence, and concentrations of chlorophyll, protein and carbohydrates were analyzed three times during the second growing season, and foliar phenolic concentrations were measured at the end of the second growing season. Nitrogen amendment counteracted the effects of ozone, but had no effect on growth-related ozone sensitivity of the clones. Ozone-sensitive clones had higher photosynthetic capacity and higher concentrations of Rubisco and phenolics than ozone-tolerant clones, but the effects of ozone were similar in the sensitive and tolerant groups. Nitrogen addition had no effect on phenolic concentration, but elevated ozone concentration increased the concentrations of chlorogenic acid and (+)-catechin. This study suggests that condensed tannins and catechin, but not salicylates or flavonol glycosides, play a role in the ozone tolerance of hybrid aspen.