A role of the oxygen radical generating system hypoxanthine-xanthine oxidase in hypoxia-reoxygenation injury was proposed 15 years ago. In recent years, however, new understanding of hypoxia-reoxygenation injury has been achieved and the significance of other oxygen radical generating systems has been acknowledged too. The hypothesis that an oxygen radical disease exists in preterm infants has recently been strengthened; an important observation is that preterm infants have lower activities of erythrocyte Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase compared to term babies. New actions of oxygen radicals have also been emphasized, and recently it has been demonstrated that the degree of protein oxidation of the lung of newborn infants is associated with chronic lung injury. The new insight into the interaction of oxygen radicals with other systems as excitatory amino acids and the NO system also increases the possibility to understand and hence prevent oxygen radical injury in the preterm infant as well as in adults exposed to an increased load of oxygen radicals.