Purification and characterisation of pepper (Capsicum annuum L) chloroplasts and chromoplasts isolated from commercial green, red and yellow mature fruits were undertaken. Induction of the synthesis of several antioxidants in organelles isolated from mature fruits was found. The ultrastructure of organelles and the presence and activity of SOD isozymes and enzymes involved in the ASC-GSH cycle, together with the non-enzymatic antioxidant content and some oxidative parameters, were analysed. It was found that lipids, rather than proteins, seem to be a target for oxidation in the chromoplasts. The ascorbate and glutathione contents were elicited during differentiation of chloroplasts into chromoplasts in both red and yellow fruits. The activity of SOD and of components of the ASC-GSH cycle was up-regulated, suggesting that these enzymes may play a role in the protection of plastids and could act as modulators of signal molecules such as O(2) ( -) and H(2)O(2) during fruit maturation. The presence of an Mn-SOD in chromoplasts isolated from yellow pepper fruits was also investigated in terms of structural and antioxidant differences between the two cultivars.