Oxidative stress during selenium (Se) deficiency in the seedlings of Trigonella foenum-graecum grown for 72 h was investigated and the response to supplemented levels of Se (0.5-1 ppm) and mimosine (0.05-1 mM) was evaluated. Beneficial effects of Se was maximal at 0.75 ppm. Mimosine, a toxic amino acid, was also found to be beneficial to the growth of the seedlings exposed up to 0.2 mM. When compared to the stressed seedlings, mitochondrial oxygen uptake from seedlings of Se (0.75 ppm) group and mimosine (0.2 mM) group exhibited threefold enhancement in state 3 respiration rate and a controlled state 4 rate, with respiratory control ratios of 5-8. Upon supplementation at the optimal levels, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities were enhanced fourfold with Se and eightfold with mimosine in the mitochondria. The soluble activity in mimosine groups increased twofold, but only by 75% in Se groups. Peroxidase activity registered a significant increase by threefold in mitochondria and fourfold in soluble fraction in both Se and mimosine groups. Exposure to Se or mimosine exhibited a differential response in the mitochondrial catalase and ascorbate peroxidase (Asc-Px) activities. In the Se groups, both catalase and Asc-Px in mitochondria decreased by 50-60%, which was contrasted by 60%, increase in Asc-Px activity and 40% in catalase activity in mimosine groups. Supplementation with either Se or mimosine evoked similar responses of increases with respect to soluble catalase by twofold to threefold and Asc-Px by 90%. The results of the present study reveal (1) the prevalence of oxidative stress in T. foenum-graecum during Se deficiency, (2) enhanced mitochondrial functional efficiency mediated by Se and mimosine independently, and (3) an antioxidative role for mimosine during Se deficiency. The study demonstrates for the first time that mimosine, a naturally occurring toxic amino acid, could be a beneficial growth factor in concentrations between 0.1 and 0.2 mM.