Cassia auriculata L. seedlings were irradiated with ultraviolet B (UV-B) in an environment-control chamber. The two doses assayed (7.5 and 15.0 kJ m−2) induced oxidative damage with an increase in lipid peroxidation and hydrogen peroxide and a decrease in chlorophyll and total phenol contents. The ascorbate and dehydroascorbate content as well as the reduced glutathione/oxidized glutathione content and ratio were significantly increased. The UV-B stress led to significant increases of the activity of superoxide dismutase, catalase, peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase. It is suggested that Cassia seedlings try to counteract high concentrations of oxygen species produced under UV-B stress through a co-ordinated increase in the contents and activities of antioxidants involved in their detoxification.