Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced by living organisms as a result of normal cellular metabolism and environmental factors, such as air pollutants or cigarette smoke. ROS are highly reactive molecules and can damage cell structures such as carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins and alter their functions. The shift in the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in favor of oxidants is termed “oxidative stress.” Regulation of reducing and oxidizing (redox) state is critical for cell viability, activation, proliferation, and organ function. Aerobic organisms have integrated antioxidant systems, which include enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants that are usually effective in blocking harmful effects of ROS. However, in pathological conditions, the antioxidant systems can be overwhelmed. Oxidative stress contributes to many pathological conditions and diseases, including cancer, neurological disorders, atherosclerosis, hypertension, ischemia/perfusion, diabetes, acute respiratory distress syndrome, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. In this review, we summarize the cellular oxidant and antioxidant systems and discuss the cellular effects and mechanisms of the oxidative stress.