Comparative studies about the relationship between endogenous antioxidant and pro-oxidant factors and maximum longevity of different animal species are reviewed. The majority of studies on antioxidant supplementation indicate that it can increase mean survival without changing maximum longevity. On the other hand, endogenous antioxidants are negatively correlated with maximum longevity. The same is true for the rates of mitochondrial oxygen radical generation, oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA, and the degree of fatty acid unsaturation of cellular membranes in postmitotic tissues. The lower rate of mitochondrial oxygen radical generation of long-lived animals in relation to that of short-lived ones can be a primary cause of their slow aging rate. This is secondarily complemented in long-lived animals with low rates of lipid peroxidation due to their low degrees of fatty acid unsaturation. These two traits suggest that the rate of generation of endogenous oxidative damage determines, at least in part, the rate of aging in animals.