Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (cSOD) is an enzyme of critical importance for the inactivation of superoxide radicals generated by cellular metabolic processes. A phenotypic syndrome has been characterized for homozygotes for a null mutation of the Drosophila cSOD gene, many features of which may be relevant to current studies of cSOD mutations in mammals. However, it was possible that some of the features of this syndrome were at least partially attributable to genetic background differences between control and mutant strains. The results reported in this paper document that the previously described features of the cSOD-null phenotype, namely (i) adult sensitivity to paraquat, (ii) male sterility, (iii) female semisterility, (iv) adult life-span reduction, (v) adult hyperoxia sensitivity, (vi) larval radiation sensitivity, and (vii) developmental sensitivity to glutathione depletion, are all rescued by a cSOD+ transgene in a controlled cSOD-null genetic background. This clearly confirms that the phenotype is largely attributable to the cSOD mutation per se. We describe two new features of the cSOD-null phenotype, namely (viii) adult sensitivity to glutathione depletion, and (ix) adult sensitivity to ionizing radiation, which are ameliorated by the cSOD+ transgene. The distinct sensitivity of cSOD-deficient individuals, and the uniform resistance of the cSOD+ control strains, clearly establish the requirement for cSOD in protection against intrinsic and applied oxygen stress and set the stage for tissue-specific expression studies with the goal of elucidating the critical target(s) of damage in cSOD-deficient animals.