Cells under oxidative stress induced by peroxides undergo functional and morphological changes, which often resemble those observed during apoptosis. Peroxides, however, also cause the oxidation of intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH). We investigated the relation between these peroxide-induced effects by using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and two HUVEC-derived cell lines, ECRF24 and ECV304. With HUVEC, tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBH) or hydrogen peroxide application in the presence of serum induced, in a dose-dependent way, reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, membrane blebbing, and nuclear condensation. These processes were accompanied by transient oxidation of GSH. With ECRF24 cells, this treatment resulted in less blebbing and a shorter period of GSH oxidation. However, repeated tBH addition increased the number of blebbing cells and prolonged the period of GSH oxidation. ECV304 cells were even more resistant to peroxide-induced bleb formation and GSH oxidation. Inhibition of glutathione reductase activity potentiated the peroxide-induced blebbing response in HUVEC and ECRF24 cells, but not in ECV304 cells. Neither membrane blebbing nor nuclear condensation in any of these cell types was due to apoptosis, as evidenced by the absence of surface expression of phosphatidylserine or fragmentation of DNA, even after prolonged incubations with tBH, although high tBH concentrations lead to nonapoptotic death. We conclude that, in endothelial cells, peroxide-induced cytoskeletal reorganization and bleb formation correlate with the degree of GSH oxidation but do not represent an early stage of the apoptotic process.