Recent studies indicate an extremely high level of tolerance to boron (B) toxicity in Puccinellia distans (Jacq.) Parl. but the mechanistic basis is not known. Puccinellia distans was exposed to B concentrations of up to 1000 mg B L-1 and root B uptake, growth parameters, B and N contents, H2O2 accumulation and center dot OH-scavenging activity were measured. Antioxidant enzyme activities including superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbate peroxidase, catalase, peroxidase and glutathione reductase, and lipid peroxidation products were determined. B appears to be actively excluded from roots. Excess B supply caused structural deformations in roots and leaves, H2O2 accumulation and simultaneous up-regulation of the antioxidative system, which prevented lipid peroxidation even at the highest B concentrations. Thus, P. distans has an efficient root B-exclusion capability and, in addition, B tolerance in shoots is achieved by a well-regulated antioxidant defense system.