Lipid peroxidation is common to all biological systems, both appearing in developmentally and environmentally regulated processes of plants. The hydroperoxy polyunsaturated fatty acids, synthesized by the action of various highly specialized forms of lipoxygenases, are substrates of at least seven different enzyme families. Signaling compounds such as jasmonates, antimicrobial and antifungal compounds such as leaf aldehydes or divinyl ethers, and a plant-specific blend of volatiles including leaf alcohols are among the numerous products. Cloning of many lipoxygenases and other key enzymes within the lipoxygenase pathway, as well as analyses by reverse genetic and metabolic profiling, revealed new reactions and the first hints of enzyme mechanisms, multiple functions, and regulation. These aspects are reviewed with respect to activation of this pathway as an initial step in the interaction of plants with pathogens, insects, or abiotic stress and at distinct stages of development.