Acute repeated exposures to subcytotoxic concentrations of tert-butylhydroperoxide and ethanol trigger premature senescence of human diploid fibroblasts. In the present work we found an increased mRNA and protein level of interleukin-11 and heme oxygenase-1 in premature senescence of WI-38 human diploid foetal lung fibroblasts induced by both tert-butylhydroperoxide and ethanol. We tested whether interleukin-11 and heme oxygenase-1 could protect against tert-butylhydroperoxide- or ethanol-induced premature senescence when stable overexpression was established using a retroviral vector-based transduction. No protective effect was found against the decrease of the proliferative potential, the increase of the proportion of senescence-associated β-galactosidase positive cells and the increase of the mRNA levels of six senescence-associated genes. © Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007.