Innate attraction and aversion to odorants are observed throughout the animal kingdom, but how olfactory circuits encode such valences is not well understood, despite extensive anatomical and functional knowledge. In Drosophila melanogaster, ~50 types of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) each express a unique receptor gene, and relay information to a cognate type of projection neurons (PNs). To examine the extent to which the population activity of ORNs is required for olfactory behavior, we developed a genetic strategy to block all ORN outputs, and then to restore output in specific types. Unlike attraction, aversion was unaffected by simultaneous silencing of many ORNs, and even single ORN types previously shown to convey neutral valence sufficed to mediate aversion. Thus, aversion may rely on specific activity patterns in individual ORNs rather than the number or identity of activated ORNs. ORN activity is relayed into the brain by downstream circuits, with excitatory PNs (ePN) representing a major output. We found that silencing the majority of ePNs did not affect aversion, even when ePNs directly downstream of single restored ORN types were silenced. Our data demonstrate the robustness of olfactory aversion, and suggest that its circuit mechanism is qualitatively different from attraction.