Background: Excessive soil salinity is an important problem for agriculture, however, salt tolerance is a complex trait that is not easily bred into plants. Exposure of cultivated tomato to salt stress has been reported to result in increased antioxidant content and activity. Salt tolerance of the related wild species, Solanum pennellii, has also been associated with similar changes in antioxidants. In this work, S. lycopersicum M82, S. pennellii LA716 and a S. pennellii introgression line (IL) population were evaluated for growth and their levels of antioxidant activity (total water-soluble antioxidant activity), major antioxidant compounds (phenolic and flavonoid contents) and antioxidant enzyme activities (superoxide dismutase, catalase, ascorbate peroxidase and peroxidase) under both control and salt stress (150 mM NaCl) conditions. These data were then used to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) responsible for controlling the antioxidant parameters under both stress and nonstress conditions.