This short review briefly introduces the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as by-products of oxidation/reduction (redox) reactions, and the ways in which the antioxidant defense machinery is involved directly or indirectly in ROS scavenging. Major antioxidants, both enzymatic and non enzymatic, that protect higher plant cells from oxidative stress damage are described. Biochemical and molecular features of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) are discussed because they play crucial roles in scavenging ROS in the different cell compartments and in response to stress conditions. Among the non enzymatic defenses, particular attention is paid to ascorbic acid, glutathione, flavonoids, carotenoids, and tocopherols. The operation of ROS scavenging systems during the seasonal cycle and specific developmental events, such as fruit ripening and senescence, are discussed in relation to the intense ROS formation during these processes that impact fruit quality. Particular attention is paid to Prunus
species because of the nutritional and antioxidant properties contained in these commonly consumed fruits.