Owing to their small size and hovering locomotion, hummingbirds are the most aerobically active vertebrate endotherms. Can hyperoxia enhance the flight performance of this highly oxygen-dependent group? Hovering performance of ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) was manipulated non-invasively using hyperoxic but hypodense gas mixtures of sea-level air combined with heliox containing 35% O2. This manipulation sheds light on the interplay among metabolic power input, mechanical power output and aerodynamic force production in limiting flight performance. No significant differences in flight mechanics and oxygen consumption were identified between hyperoxic and normoxic conditions. Thus, at least in the present experimental context, hyperoxia did not change the major metabolic and mechanical parameters; O2 diffusive capacities of the respiratory system were probably not limiting to a significant extent. Compared with hummingbirds in our previous studies, the present experimental birds were heavier, had resultant shorter hover-feeding durations and experienced aerodynamic failure at higher air densities. Because hummingbirds have relatively stable wingbeat frequencies, modulation of power output was attained primarily through variation in stroke amplitude up to near 180 degrees. This result indicates that maximum hovering performance was constrained geometrically and that heavier birds with greater fat loads had less margin for enhancement of power production. Sexual dimorphism in flight adaptation also played a role, with males showing more limited hovering capacities, presumably as a trade-off for increased maneuverability.