The hard clam Meretrix meretrix, which has been traditionally used as medicine and seafood, was used in this study to isolate antioxidant peptides. First, a peptide-rich extract was tested for its protective effect against paraquat-induced oxidative stress using the nematode model Caenorhabditis elegans. Then, three novel antioxidant peptides; MmP4 (LSDRLEETGGASS), MmP11 (KEGCREPETEKGHR) and MmP19 (IVTNWDDMEK), were identified and were found to increase the resistance of nematodes against paraquat. Circular dichroism spectroscopy revealed that MmP4 was predominantly in beta-sheet conformation, while MmP11 and MmP19 were primarily in random coil conformation. Using transgenic nematode models, the peptides were shown to promote nuclear translocation of the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor, a pivotal regulator of stress response and lifespan, and induce the expression of superoxide dismutase 3 (SOD-3), an antioxidant enzyme. Analysis of DAF-16 target genes by real-time PCR reveals that sod-3 was up-regulated by MmP4, MmP11 and MmP19 while ctl-1 and ctl-2 were also up-regulated by MmP4. Further examination of daf-16 using RNA interference suggests that the peptide-increased resistance of C. elegans to oxidative stress was DAF-16 dependent. Taken together, these data demonstrate the antioxidant activity of M. meretrix peptides, which are associated with activation of the stress response factor DAF-16 and regulation of the antioxidant enzyme genes.