We investigated the possibility that oxidative stress contributes to blossom-end rot (BER) initiation in bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) grown under high salinity. Pepper plants (cv. Mazurka, Rijk Zwaan, the Netherlands) were grown in a greenhouse and irrigated with nutrient solution made up with either desalinated water (control - rising from E.C. 1.9 to 2.4 dS m(-1)) or saline water (salinity - rising from E.C. 3.2 to 7.0 dS m(-1)). Irrigation was by a circulation system. BER symptoms were observed throughout the experiment but were highly enhanced in the salinity-grown plants during the spring and summer. The fruit calcium concentration was not affected by salinity, but manganese concentrations in both leaves and fruits were significantly reduced under these conditions. Under salinity there was an enhancement of apoplast reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, which was partly a result of increase in NAD(P)H oxidase activity in the pericarp of pepper fruit at the stage that it was most sensitive to BER. Apoplast ROS production and extracted NAD(P)H oxidase activity were inhibited by manganese, zinc and to a lesser extent by calcium. These cations also negated the enhancement of ROS production caused by incubation of fruit pericarp discs in NaCl solutions. Manganese, zinc and calcium also inhibited NAD(P)H oxidase activity, extracted following their infiltration into fruit pericarp discs. The results suggest that generation and scavenging of oxygen free radicals in the apoplast may contribute to the appearance of BER symptoms in pepper fruits under saline conditions. It is suggested that manganese may serve as antioxidant in pepper fruit and that manganese addition to peppers grown under salinity may alleviate BER symptoms in the fruits.