Progressive decline of some neuroendocrine signaling systems has long been assumed to cause age-related physiological impairments and limit life span. However, hypophysectomy--removal of the pituitary gland--can delay many aspects of the aging process, and recent genetic studies have confirmed that reducing the secretion of pituitary hormones can increase the life span of laboratory organisms. Most strikingly, reducing activity of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling system substantially increases life span. Conversely, activity of the reproductive system or activation of stress responses can curtail life span. Because caloric restriction also reduces the activity of several neuroendocrine systems while increasing life span, it now appears that the aging process is driven, at least in part, by neuroendocrine activity rather than by its decline with age.