Glutathione (GSH) is an abundant and ubiquitous low-molecular-weight thiol which has proposed roles in many cellular processes including protection against the deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species. Our experiments have addressed the role of GSH in protection against hydrogen peroxide in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and have shown that GSH and catalase provide overlapping defense systems. GSH appears to be the primary antioxidant for protection against hydrogen peroxide since mutants lacking GSH (gsh1) or glutathione reductase (glr1) are sensitive, whereas, strains lacking catalase A (cta1) or catalase T (ctt1) are unaffected in resistance to this oxidant. Furthermore, following treatment with hydrogen peroxide, the levels of oxidized, protein-bound and extracellular GSH were all increased at the expense of intracellular GSH. However, there are two lines of evidence that indicate catalases are required in the absence of GSH; firstly, strains that lack both catalase A and T accumulate increased levels of oxidized glutathione following treatment with hydrogen peroxide; and secondly, deletion of catalase genes exacerbates the hydrogen peroxide sensitivity of glr1 and gsh1 mutants.