Grown in water culture 6-week-old Salvia officinalis plants with 4-5 true leaves were exposed to irradiation with UV-B (10 min, 12. 3 kJ/m2), subjected to 5 mM exogenous proline in the nutrient solution, and treated with a combination of both factors. The plants responded to short UV-B irradiation by the appearance of oxidative stress, which was manifested in elevated content of malondialdehyde in leaves. Exogenous proline added 24 h before the irradiation inhibited lipid peroxidation. The total activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) was analyzed in plant leaves, and three SOD isoforms-Mn-SOD, Fe-SOD, and Cu/Zn-SOD-were identified. Activities of these isoforms were measured over time, and the expression of their respective genes was analyzed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). It is shown that the addition of proline, UV-B irradiation, or combination of both treatments regulated in a differential manner the activities of SOD isoforms localized in various cell compartments. The activity of the cytosolic Cu/Zn-SOD isoform was limited by the presence of its mRNA, the content of which was regulated by mRNA synthesis or decay rate. By contrast, the activity of plastidic Fe-SOD isoform was regulated on the substrate (allosteric) level, not on the level of FSD gene expression. The activity of mitochondrial Mn-SOD isoform was insensitive to UV-B irradiation, addition of proline, or combination of both treatments, even though the level of MSD gene transcripts increased significantly after UV-B irradiation. The results indicate that MSD gene transcripts induced by UV-B were not completely processed to produce mature mRNA or mature mRNA was not capable of translation. It cannot be excluded that the synthesized macromolecule, the Mn-SOD precursor did not undergo posttranslational maturation to produce biologically active enzyme molecules. It appears that proline is involved in the differentially regulated complex expression of various SOD isoforms. This regulation is largely based on various extents of oxidative stress in different cell compartments. © 2011 Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.