The root extract from Rhodiola rosea has been reported to have numerous health benefits in human and animal studies. Its molecular mechanism is currently unknown; however, it has been suggested to act as an antioxidant. This study found that a formulation of R. rosea extract, SHR-5, from the Swedish Herbal Institute (SHI) could extend both mean (24% in both sexes) and maximum (16% in males and 31% in females) life span in Drosophila melanogaster when compared to controls. It also found that it lowered mitochondrial superoxide levels and afforded elevated protection against the superoxide generator paraquat in both sexes. The extract SHR-5 did not alter the activities of the major antioxidant enzymes, the superoxide dismutases or catalase, nor did it afford protection against H(2)O(2) or soluble iron. These results present a decrease in endogenous superoxide levels as a possible mode of action for the root extract of R. rosea.