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The evolution of group-living has fascinated but also puzzled researchers from the inception of behavioural ecology. We use a simple optimality approach to examine some of the costs and benefits of group-living in redfronted lemurs (Eulemur fulvus rufus). We show that dominant males profit from accepting subordinates within their groups, as the latter significantly decrease the likelihood that the group is taken over by intruders. This benefit is large enough to outweigh the costs of reproductive competition and may constitute the driving force behind the evolution of multi-male associations in this species.