Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have multifaceted roles in the orchestration of plant gene expression and gene-product regulation. Cellular redox homeostasis is considered to be an "integrator" of information from metabolism and the environment controlling plant growth and acclimation responses, as well as cell suicide events. The different ROS forms influence gene expression in specific and sometimes antagonistic ways. Low molecular antioxidants (e.g., ascorbate, glutathione) serve not only to limit the lifetime of the ROS signals but also to participate in an extensive range of other redox signaling and regulatory functions. In contrast to the low molecular weight antioxidants, the "redox" states of components involved in photosynthesis such as plastoquinone show rapid and often transient shifts in response to changes in light and other environmental signals. Whereas both types of "redox regulation" are intimately linked through the thioredoxin, peroxiredoxin, and pyridine nucleotide pools, they also act independently of each other to achieve overall energy balance between energy-producing and energy-utilizing pathways. This review focuses on current knowledge of the pathways of redox regulation, with discussion of the somewhat juxtaposed hypotheses of "oxidative damage" versus "oxidative signaling," within the wider context of physiological function, from plant cell biology to potential applications.