Dietary restriction is well known to increase the life span of a variety of organisms from yeast to mammals, but the relationships between nutrition and the hypoxic tolerance have not yet been considered. Hypoxia is a major cause of cell death in myocardial infarction and stroke. Here we forced hypoxia-related death by exposing one-day-old male Drosophila to chronic hypoxia (5% O(2)) and analysed their survival. Chronic hypoxia reduced the average life span from 33.6 days to 6.3 days when flies were fed on a rich diet. A demographic analysis indicated that chronic hypoxia increased the slope of the mortality trajectory and not the short-term risk of death. Dietary restriction produced by food dilution, by yeast restriction, or by amino acid restriction partially reversed the deleterious action of hypoxia. It increased the life span of hypoxic flies up to seven days, which represented about 25% of the life time of an hypoxic fly. Maximum survival of hypoxic flies required only dietary sucrose, and it was insensitive to drugs such as rapamycin and resveratrol, which increase longevity of normoxic animals. The results thus uncover a new link between protein nutrition, nutrient signalling, and resistance to hypoxic stresses.