Efficient, cyclical transmission of trypanosomes through tsetse flies is central to maintenance of human sleeping sickness and nagana across sub-Saharan Africa. Infection rates in tsetse are normally very low as most parasites ingested with the fly bloodmeal die in the fly gut, displaying the characteristics of apoptotic cells. Here we show that a range of antioxidants (glutathione, cysteine, N-acetyl-cysteine, ascorbic acid and uric acid), when added to the insect bloodmeal, can dramatically inhibit cell death of Trypanosoma brucei brucei in tsetse. Both L- and D-cysteine invoked similar effects suggesting that inhibition of trypanosome death is not dependent on protein synthesis. The present work suggests that antioxidants reduce the midgut environment protecting trypanosomes from cell death induced by reactive oxygen species.