Amphotericin B (AmB) is known to bind to ergosterol in fungal cell membranes, but the precise mechanism of its toxicity to cells is as yet poorly understood. AmB autooxidizes, and it is possible that its antifungal effects could result from oxidative damage. Exposure of protoplasts of Candida albicans to AmB under hypoxic conditions reduced protoplast lysis by as much as 80% compared with incubations in air. Protoplasts were protected from AmB-induced lysis by exogenous catalase and/or superoxide dismutase (SOD). Whole cells of C. albicans were protected by exogenous catalase from AmB-induced leakage of [3H]leucine and from killing by AmB. Cells grown on medium inducing high levels of endogenous catalase were resistant to AmB-induced growth inhibition. In contrast, AmB-induced K+ leakage was not hindered under hypoxic conditions or in the presence of catalase or SOD. Thus the lethal and lytic effects of AmB on C. albicans cells and protoplasts, but not prelethal AmB-induced K+ leakage, are mediated by oxidative damage.