Increase in oxidative damage and decrease in cellular maintenance is often associated with aging, but, in marine ectotherms, both processes are also strongly influenced by somatic growth, maturation and reproduction. In this study, we used a single cohort of the short-lived catarina scallop Argopecten ventricosus, to investigate the effects of somatic growth, reproduction and aging on oxidative damage parameters (protein carbonyls, TBARS and lipofuscin) and cellular maintenance mechanisms (antioxidant activity and apoptosis) in scallops, caged in their natural environment. The concentrations of protein carbonyls and TBARS increased steeply during the early period of fast growth and during reproduction in one-year-old scallops. However, oxidative damage was transient, and apoptotic cell death played a pivotal role in eliminating damage in gill, mantle and muscle tissues of young scallops. Animals were able to reproduce again in the second year, but the reduced intensity of apoptosis impaired subsequent removal of damaged cells. Fast accumulation of the age pigment lipofuscin was observed in late survivors. Reproduction had a temperature independent effect on oxygen uptake and on oxidative stress markers in first year scallops. Compared to longer-lived bivalves, A. ventricosus seems more susceptible to oxidative stress with higher tissue-specific protein carbonyl levels and fast accumulation of lipofuscin in animals surviving the first and second spawning. Superoxide dismutase activity and apoptotic cell death intensity were higher in this short-lived scallop than in longer-lived bivalves. The life strategy of this short-lived and intensely predated scallop supports rapid somatic growth and fitness as well as early maturation at young age over cellular maintenance in second year scallops.