Mitochondria isolated from the pericarp tissue of green bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit and purified on a Percoll gradient produced superoxide in buffers aerated with oxygen. ADP and uncouplers of the electron transport chain reduced superoxide production. Disulfiram, an inhibitor of the alternative oxidase, enhanced superoxide production. Inhibitors of complex III had little effect on superoxide production by mitochondria which were insensitive to cyanide. Less superoxide was produced when dithiothreitol was used to reduce the sulfhydryl groups of the alternative oxidase protein and the enzyme was activated with pyruvate than when the sulfhydryl groups were oxidized with diamide. A role for the alternative oxidase in limiting the level of reactive oxygen species produced in stressed and senescing plant tissues is suggested.