Abstract Because of the molecular configuration, most free radicals are highly reactive and can cause cell injury. Protective mechanisms have evolved to provide defense against freeradical injury. Any time these defense systems are overwhelmed, such as during disease states, cell dysfunction may occur. In this review we discuss cellular sources as well as the significance of free radicals, oxidative stress, and antioxidants. A probable role of oxidative stress in various cardiac pathologies has been also analyzed. Although some methods for the detection of free radicals as well as oxidative stress have been cited, better methods to study the quantity as well as subcellular distribution of free radicals are needed in order to understand fully the role of free radicals in both health and disease.