The overexpression of antioxidative enzymes such as CuZn-superoxide dismutase (SOD), Mn-SOD, and catalase has previously been reported to extend life span in transgenic flies (Drosophila melanogaster). The purpose of this study was to determine whether life-extending effects persist if the recipient control strains of flies are relatively long-lived. Accordingly, the life spans of large numbers of replicate control and overexpressor lines were determined in two long-lived genetic backgrounds involving a combined total of >90,000 flies. Significant increases in the activities of both CuZn-SOD and catalase had no beneficial effect on survivorship in relatively long-lived y w mutant flies and were associated with slightly decreased life spans in wild type flies of the Oregon-R strain. The introduction of additional transgenes encoding Mn-SOD or thioredoxin reductase in the same genetic background also failed to cause life span extension. In conjunction with data from earlier studies, the results show that increasing the activities of these major antioxidative enzymes above wild type levels does not decrease the rate of aging in long-lived strains of Drosophila, although there may be some effect in relatively short-lived strains.