Density-dependent natural selection has been studied, empirically with laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Populations kept at very high and low population density have become differentiated with respect to important fitness-related traits. There is now some understanding of the behavioural and physiological basis of these differences. These studies have identified larval competitive ability and efficiency of food utilization as traits that are negatively correlated with respect to effects on fitness. Theory that illuminates and motivates additional research with this experimental system has been lacking. Current research has focused on models that incorporate many details of Drosophila ecology in laboratory environments.