The ability of brassinosteroids, such as 24-epibrassinolide (EBL) to increase the resistance of oilseed rape plants (Brassica napus L.) to salt stress (175 mM NaCl) was investigated along with the possible mechanisms of their protective action. Seedlings were grown for three weeks on the Hoagland-Snyder medium under controlled conditions. The experimental plants were treated with either (1) 175 mM NaCl, or (2) 10−10 M EBL, or (3) 175 mM NaCl plus 10−10 M EBL by adding the corresponding components to the growth medium. The exposure was 7 and 14 days. As compared to the control, salinization inhibited plant height by 33–35%, reduced leaf area by 2.0–2.5 times, reduced 2.5- and 2-fold plant fresh and dry weight, respectively, reduced water content of plant tissues by 26–31% and, twofold, the content of chlorophylls a and b. Plants responded to NaCl by developing oxidative stress conditions, lowering the osmotic potential of the cell contents down to −2 MPa, accumulating proline (by 43–52 times) and low-molecular-weight phenolics (by 1.9–2.7 times). Oilseed rape plants were shown to respond to salinization with an increase of endogenous content of steroid hormones: 24-epibrassinosteroids (24-epibrassinolide and 24-epicastasterone), 24S-methyl-brassinosteroids (brassinolide and castasterone), and 28-homobrassinosteroids (28-homobrassinolide and 28-homocastasterone); such evidence indirectly confirms the involvement of brassinosteroids in the development of salt tolerance. Adding EBL to the nutrient medium under optimal growth conditions did not significantly affect the indices under study. Under salt stress, EBL showed a pronounced protective effect: stem growth was fully restored, plant assimilation area increased by as much as 67–76% as compared to the control index, fresh and dry weight largely recovered (up to 85–92% of the control values), and the inhibitory effect of NaCl on photosynthetic pigments was diminished. Exogenous EBL impeded the development of NaCl-dependent lipid peroxidation and increased the osmotic potential of the leaf cell contents. The protective effect of EBL under salt stress was probably associated with EBL antioxidant effect, rather than the hormone-induced accumulation of proline and of low-molecula-weight phenolics, as well as with the ability to regulate water status by maintaining intracellular ion homeostasis. © 2014, Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.