The interaction between natural and sexual selection is central to many theories of how mate choice and reproductive isolation evolve, but their joint effect on the evolution of mate recognition has not, to my knowledge, been investigated in an evolutionary experiment. Natural and sexual selection were manipulated in interspecific hybrid populations of Drosophila to determine their effects on the evolution of a mate recognition system comprised of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). The effect of natural selection in isolation indicated that CHCs were costly for males and females to produce. The effect of sexual selection in isolation indicated that females preferred males with a particular CHC composition. However, the interaction between natural and sexual selection had a greater effect on the evolution of the mate recognition system than either process in isolation. When natural and sexual selection were permitted to operate in combination, male CHCs became exaggerated to a greater extent than in the presence of sexual selection alone, and female CHCs evolved against the direction of natural selection. This experiment demonstrated that the interaction between natural and sexual selection is critical in determining the direction and magnitude of the evolutionary response of the mate recognition system.