The enzyme telomerase lengthens telomeres-protective structures containing repetitive DNA sequences at chromosome ends. Telomere shortening is associated with diseases of ageing in mammals. Chronic stress has been related to shorter immune-cell telomeres, but telomerase activity under stress may be low, permitting telomere loss, or high, partially attenuating it. We developed an experimental model to examine the impacts of extended unpredictable stress on telomerase activity in male rats. Telomerase activity was 54 per cent higher in stressed rats than in controls, and associated with stress-related physiological and behavioural outcomes. This significant increase suggests a potential mechanism for resilience to stress-related replicative senescence.