Mortality rates typically increase rapidly at the onset of aging but can decelerate at later ages. Reproduction increases the death rate in many organisms. To test the idea that a delayed impact of earlier reproduction contributes to both an increase in death rates and a later deceleration in mortality, the timing of the surplus mortality produced by an increased level of egg production was measured in female Drosophila. Reproduction produced a delayed wave of mortality, coincident with the sharp increase in death rates at the onset of aging and the subsequent deceleration of mortality. These results suggest that aging has evolved primarily because of the damaging effects of reproduction earlier in life, rather than because of mutations that have detrimental effects only at late ages.