We measured ozone (O3) concentrations in the atmospheric plumes of the volcanoes St. Augustine (1976), Mt. Etna (2004, 2009) and Eyjafjallajökull (2010) and found O3 to be strongly depleted compared to the background at each volcano. At Mt. Etna O3 was depleted within tens of seconds from the crater, the age of the St. Augustine plumes was on the order of hours, whereas the O3 destruction in the plume of Eyjafjallajökull was maintained in 1–9 day old plumes. The most likely cause for this O3 destruction are catalytic bromine reactions as suggested by a model that manages to reproduce the very early destruction of O3 but also shows that O3 destruction is ongoing for several days. Given the observed rapid and sustained destruction of O3, heterogeneous loss of O3 on ash is unlikely to be important.