Previously we found that Drosophila melanogaster lines selected for increased desiccation resistance have lowered metabolic rate and behavioral activity levels, and show correlated responses for resistance to starvation and a toxic ethanol level. These results were consistent with a prediction that increased resistance to many environmental stresses may be genetically correlated because of a reduction in metabolic energy expenditure. Here we present experiments on the genetic basis of the selection response and extend the study of correlated responses to other stresses. The response to selection was not sex-specific and involved X-linked and autosomal genes acting additively. Activity differences contributed little to differences in desiccation resistance between selected and control lines. Selected lines had lower metabolic rates than controls in darkness when activity was inhibited. Adults from selected lines showed increased resistance to a heat shock, 60Co-gamma-radiation, and acute ethanol and acetic acid stress. The desiccation, ethanol and starvation resistance of isofemale lines set up from the F2s of a cross between one of the selected and one of the control lines were correlated. Selected and control lines did not differ in ether-extractable lipid content or in resistance to acetone, ether or a cold shock.