The effects of putrescine (a polyamine), low temperature and their combinations on the activities of apoplastic antioxidant enzymes were studied in the leaves of two wheat cultivars, winter (Dogu-88) and spring (Gerek-79). Fifteen-day-old wheat seedlings were treated with putrescine solutions (0.1, 1 and 10mM) prior to cold treatment (5/3 degrees C). The activities of apoplastic catalase, peroxidase and superoxide dismutase were determined in the leaves both under normal and cold conditions at 1, 3 and 5 days. The results indicate that cold treatment significantly increased the activities of apoplastic catalase, peroxidase and superoxide dismutase in winter wheat while not generally affecting spring wheat. Under control conditions, the putrescine treatments were more effective in increasing the enzyme activities in winter wheat than in spring wheat. However, under cold conditions, the putrescine treatments surprisingly induced enzyme activities in spring wheat while generally reducing those in winter wheat leaves. The results show that putrescine may act as an agent inducing primary changes in the apoplastic antioxidant system of wheat leaves during reactive oxygen species-mediated damage caused by low temperature stress.