The negative effects of fructose due to its chronic consumption are well documented, while short-term application of fructose is found to protect different types of cells against oxidative stress. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are suggested to mediate both the cytotoxic and defensive effects. Here, we compare the influence of glucose and fructose on yeast under H(2)O(2)-induced stress. Under control conditions, fructose-grown comparing with glucose-grown yeast demonstrated higher metabolic activity and ROS level. Therefore, fructose was suggested to provoke a mild stress that resulted in the acquisition of cellular resistance to lethal challenges, which explained the higher survival of fructose-grown yeast under H(2)O(2)-induced shock. Exposure to H(2)O(2) increased ROS level in glucose-grown cells, whereas it decreased the ROS level in fructose-grown cells. Hydrogen peroxide activated superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase in both the cell types studied, but glucose-grown cells demonstrated a sharp rise of the activities, while cells grown on fructose showed a broad peak of activation. Thus, fructose is likely to protect the antioxidant enzymes against their inactivation by H(2)O(2). Despite a different type of the enzyme activation in both the studied cell types (glucose- and fructose-grown), a strong positive correlation between SOD and catalase was found. The physiological meaning of this relationship and possible mechanisms of the fructose protective effect are discussed.