Environmental stresses such as high temperature and high salinity are known to cause oxidative stress in plants by enhancing the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have a strong impact on plant development. Mitochondria constitute one of the major sources of ROS in roots. Recently, it has been shown in mammalian systems that methylene blue (MB) at very low concentrations can attenuate mitochondrial ageing by scavenging ROS. In the present study, we tested whether MB could be used to protect tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) seedlings against the harmful effects of high salinity and high root temperature. Tomato seedlings were grown hydroponically and were subjected to two abiotic stresses: high salinity (150 mM NaCl) in the nutrient medium, or high root temperature (35 degrees C) for 14 d. These stress treatments were applied with or without the addition of 10(-8) M MB. The results showed that, under normal conditions, MB enhanced root and shoot growth, increased root respiration, decreased root H2O2 and malonyldialdehyde (MDA) concentrations, and enhanced root superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. Both high salinity and high root temperature stress impaired root and shoot growth, and caused an enhancement of root oxidative stress. MB had a significant protective effect against both abiotic stresses and restored the levels of oxidative stress-related components (i.e., H2O2 and MDA) in root and leaf tissues almost to normal levels. It is hypothesised that MB could confer its protective effect not only through interactions with root mitochondria, but also via additional cellular targets in the root.