Recent advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of plant response to ozone attack are reviewed. Plants grown in elevated atmospheric ozone are known to undergo several biochemical changes before any actual damage can be detected. These reactions include increases in the activities of enzymes associated with general plant defence mechanisms. Ozone exposure often causes a surge in the production of the plant hormone ethylene, as well as changes in polyamine metabolism and increases in the activities of several phenylpropanoid and flavonoid pathway enzymes. The activities of superoxide dismutase and peroxidases that protect cells from the oxidative damage caused by hydroxyl radicals, H2O2 and superoxides also increase. However, ozone-induced changes in plant cells at the gene level are almost unknown. The limited data available suggest close similarities between ozone-induced and pathogen-induced defence responses in plants. Several general defence genes that have been cloned in other studies will soon be applied to studies of gene expression in ozone-exposed plants. The use of molecular biological tools in ozone research should enable the development of highly specific and sensitive molecular markers for biomonitoring ozone-induced injuries in plants.