The unicellular marine phytoplankton Chattonella marina is known to have toxic effects against various living marine organisms, especially fishes. However, details of the mechanism of the toxicity of this plankton remain obscure. Here we demonstrate the generation of superoxide and hydroxyl radicals from a red tide unicellular organism, C. marina, by using ESR spectroscopy with the spin traps 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-N-oxide (DMPO) and N-t-butyl-α-phenylnitrone (PBN), and by using the luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence response. The spin-trapping assay revealed productions of spin adduct of superoxide anion (O2-) (DMPO-OOH) and that of hydroxyl radical (· OH) (DMPO-OH) in the algal suspension, which was not observed in the ultrasonic-ruptured suspension. The addition of superoxide dismutase (500 U/ml) almost completely inhibited the formation of both DMPO-OOH and DMPO-OH, and carbon-centered radicals were generated with the disappearance of DMPO-OH after addition of 5% dimethyl sulfoxide (Me2SO) and 5% ethanol. Furthermore, the generation of methyl and methoxyl radicals, which are thought to be produced by the reaction of hydroxyl radical and Me2SO under aerobic condition, was identified using spin trapping with a combination of PBN and Me2SO. Luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence assay also supported the above observations. These results clearly indicate that C. marina generates and releases the superoxide radical followed by the production of hydroxyl radical to the surrounding environment. The velocity of superoxide generation by C. marina was about 100 times faster than that by mammalian phagocytes per cell basis. The generation of oxygen radical is suggested to be a pathogenic principle in the toxication of red tide to susceptible aquaculture fishes and may be directly correlated with the coastal pollution by red tide.