Premature death has been defined as a growth stoppage linked to the accumulation of specific deletions of the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) in Podospora anserina. This occurs only in strains carrying the AS1-4 mutation which lies in a gene encoding a cytosolic ribosomal protein. Here we describe the isolation and genetic characterization of 10 nuclear mutations which either delay the appearance of this syndrome (respite from premature death) or cause a switch to the classical senescence process (repeal of premature death). These mutations lie in at least six genes. Some cause defects at the levels of ascospore germination, growth rates, and/or sensitivity toward inhibitors of protein syntheses. All modify the onset of senescence in wild-type (AS1+) strains. The role played by these genes is discussed with respect to the control of diseases due to mtDNA rearrangements in filamentous fungi. Copyright 1998 Academic Press.