Survival under starvation conditions was investigated in relationship to survival when food was present because these traits could be linked by evolutionary history. Recombinant inbred lines derived from natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster were used to test genetic correlations and architecture of these survival traits. Sexes were genetically correlated within traits and there was significant correlation between survival traits. A number of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were present for starvation survival and/or survival on food. In general, the QTL effects were consistent for sexes and environments. QTL effects were found on each major chromosome, but the major effects were largely localized on the second chromosome. Importantly, the ‘four-allele’ progenitor of the recombinant inbred lines used in the present study allowed the sign and magnitude of effects to be assigned to linkage groups. One such linkage group on the second chromosome conferred starvation resistance and longevity, supporting the hypothesis of an association between starvation resistance and lifespan.