Telomere length and telomerase activity directly affect the replicative capacity of primary human cells. Some have suggested that telomere length influences organismal lifespan. We compared telomere length distributions in a number of inbred and outbred established mouse strains with those of strains recently derived from wild mice. Telomere length was considerably shorter in wild-derived strains than in the established strains. We found no correlation of telomere length with lifespan, even among closely related inbred mouse strains. Thus, while telomere length plays a role in cellular lifespan in cultured human cells, it is not a major factor in determining organismal lifespan.