This study investigated oxidative stress and the antioxidant response to boron (B) of chickpea cultivars differing in their tolerance to drought. Three-week-old chickpea seedlings were subjected to 0.05 (control), 1.6 or 6.4 mm B in the form of boric acid (H3BO3) for 7 days. At the end of the treatment period, shoot length, dry weight, chlorophyll fluorescence, B concentration, malondialdehyte content and the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POX), catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APX) and glutathione reductase (GR) were measured. The 1.6 mm B treatment did not cause significant changes in shoot length of cultivars, although shoot length increased in the drought-tolerant Gokce and decreased in the drought-sensitive Kusmen after 6.4 mm B treatment. Dry weights of both cultivars decreased with 6.4 mm B treatment. Chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) did not change in Gokce at either B level. Nor did it change in Kusmen with 1.6 mm B but Fv/Fm decreased with 6.4 mm B. Boron concentration in the shoots of both cultivars increased significantly with increasing levels of applied B. Significant increases in total SOD activity were observed in shoots of both cultivars given 1.6 and 6.4 mm B. Shoot extracts exhibited five activity bands, two of which were identified as MnSOD and Cu/ZnSOD. In comparison to the control group, all enzyme activities (except APX and SOD) decreased with 1.6 mm B stress. GR activity decreased, while activities of CAT, POX and APX did not change with 6.4 mm B in Kusmen. On the other hand, activities of CAT, APX and SOD increased in Gokce at both B levels. In addition, lipid peroxidation was higher in Kusmen than in Gokce, indicating more damage by B to membrane lipids in the former cultivar. These results suggest that (i) Gokce is tolerant and Kusmen is sensitive to B, and (ii) B tolerance of Gokce might be closely related to increased capacity of the antioxidative system (total SOD, CAT and APX) to scavenge reactive oxygen species and thus suppress lipid peroxidation under B stress. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the antioxidant response of chickpea seedlings to B toxicity.