Significance: Enhanced levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been associated with different disease states. Most attempts to validate and exploit these associations by chronic antioxidant therapies have provided disappointing results. Hence, the clinical relevance of ROS is still largely unclear. Recent Advances: We are now beginning to understand the reasons for these failures, which reside in the many important physiological roles of ROS in cell signaling. To exploit ROS therapeutically, it would be essential to define and treat the disease-relevant ROS at the right moment and leave physiological ROS formation intact. This breakthrough seems now within reach. Critical Issues: Rather than antioxidants, a new generation of protein targets for classical pharmacological agents includes ROS-forming or toxifying enzymes or proteins that are oxidatively damaged and can be functionally repaired. Future Directions: Linking these target proteins in future to specific disease states and providing in each case proof of principle will be essential for translating the oxidative stress concept into the clinic. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 23, 1171-1185.