Intense effort has been directed at understanding pathways modulating ageing in invertebrate model organisms. Prior to this decade, several longevity genes had been identified in flies, worms and yeast. More recently, with the development of RNAi libraries in worms and the yeast open reading frame (ORF) deletion collection, it has become routine to perform genome-wide screens for phenotypes of interest. A number of worm screens have now been performed to identify genes whose reduced expression leads to longer lifespan, and two ORF deletion longevity screens have been performed in yeast. Interestingly, these screens have linked previously unidentified cellular pathways to invertebrate ageing. More surprising, however, is the sheer number of longevity genes in worms and yeast. In this review, I discuss data from genome-wide screens in the context of evolutionary theories of ageing and raise issues regarding the increasing complexity associated with the genetics of longevity.