Oxygen deprivation is rapidly deleterious for most organisms. However, Caenorhabditis elegans has developed the ability to survive anoxia for at least 48 hours. Mutations in the DAF-2/DAF-16 insulin-like signaling pathway promote such survival. We describe a pathway involving the HYL-2 ceramide synthase that acts independently of DAF-2. Loss of the ceramide synthase gene hyl-2 results in increased sensitivity of C. elegans to anoxia. C. elegans has two ceramide synthases, hyl-1 and hyl-2, that participate in ceramide biogenesis and affect its ability to survive anoxic conditions. In contrast to hyl-2(lf) mutants, hyl-1(lf) mutants are more resistant to anoxia than normal animals. HYL-1 and HYL-2 have complementary specificities for fatty acyl chains. These data indicate that specific ceramides produced by HYL-2 confer resistance to anoxia.