Adaptation of natural and laboratory-selected populations of Drosophila to desiccation stress results in enhanced water conservation abilities, and thus increased stress resistance. In this study, we tested whether laboratory selection for desiccation resistance is also reflected in increased mating success of adapted D. melanogaster males under desiccating conditions. Adapted flies perform better under stressful conditions, and as expected males from desiccation-selected populations exhibited significantly higher relative mating success in comparison with controls after 5–6 h of desiccation. However, we show evidence for a trade-off between survival under stressful conditions and mating success in nonstressful and even mildly stressful environments (2.5–3 h of desiccation), where males from selected populations were involved in only ∼40% of observed copulations. This suggests that mutations favored by natural selection, associated with survival when resources are limited, may only be favored by sexual selection above a minimal “threshold” stress level. At milder stress levels increased resistance comes at a cost of lower relative mating success, and thus reduced fitness. This interaction between stress and relative male mating success of adapted and nonadapted males could interrupt gene flow, thus facilitating divergence of resistant populations from the ancestral population.