Ozone injury to natural vegetation is being increasingly surveyed throughout the northern hemisphere. There exists a growing list of species showing visible 'ozone-like' symptoms which needs to be validated. This study presents the results from a test survey of ozone injury to forest vegetation in the light exposed sites of five Swiss level II plots, for the new ICP-Forests protocol. With AOT40 from 14 to 28 ppm-h in 2000, ten out of 49 woody plant species displayed typical symptoms, and four showed untypical symptoms. Symptom origin was investigated in nine and validated in seven species, using morphological, histological and cellular markers of oxidative stress and ozone-induced plant response. Independent of taxonomic position, ozone effects were characterized by the induction of oxidative stress in the mesophyll resulting in discrete and light-dependent hypersensitive-like responses and in accelerated cell senescence. The presented combination of cellular and morphological markers allows differential diagnosis of visible ozone injury.