The mechanism of growth amelioration in salt-stressed maize (Zea mays L. cv., DK 647 F1) by exogenously applied mannitol (M) and thiourea (T) was investigated. Maize seedlings were planted in pots containing perlite and subjected to 0 or 100 mM NaCl in full strength Hoagland's nutrient solution. Two levels of M (15 and 30 mM) or T (3.5 and 7.0 mM) were sprayed to the leaves of maize seedlings 10 days after germination. Salinity stress caused considerable reduction in plant dry biomass, chlorophyll content, and relative water content in the maize plants. However, it increased the activities of catalase (CAT; EC 126.96.36.199), superoxide dismutase (SOD; EC 188.8.131.52), and polyphenol oxidase (PPO; EC 184.108.40.206), and levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and electrolyte leakage, but it did not change peroxidase (POD; EC 220.127.116.11) activity. Foliar application of M or T was found to be effective in checking salt-induced shoot growth inhibition. Exogenously applied M or T reduced the activities of CAT, SOD, POD, and PPO in the salt-treated maize plants compared to those in the plants not fed with these organic compounds. Salinity increased Na+ contents but decreased those of K+, Ca2 +, and P in the leaves and roots of the maize plants. Foliar-applied M or T increased the contents of K+, Ca2 +, and P, but decreased that of Na+ in the salt-stressed maize plants with respect to those of the salt-stressed plants not supplied with mannitol or thiourea. Mannitol was found to be more effective than thiourea in improving salinity tolerance of maize plants in terms of growth and physiological attributes measured in the present study.