Understanding speciation relies critically on the identification of mechanisms responsible for maintaining species integrity (i.e., reproductive isolation) especially when closely related species are sympatric in nature. Studies of reproductive isolation in Drosophila often involve laboratory mating experiments that assume that patterns of mate choice in the laboratory are similar to those in the wild. Two sibling species, Drosophila arizonae and D. mojavensis, known to exhibit low levels of interspecific hybridization in the laboratory, but not in nature, were used in multiple-choice mating trials using various mating chamber designs as well as synthetic and natural media for developing larvae and courting adults. Sympatric populations were more sexually isolated than allopatric ones, consistent with past studies, and all experimental variables tested (chamber size, host plant presence and rearing substrates) had significant effects on levels of premating isolation between these species. Flies reared on cactus showed increased premating isolation versus those reared on synthetic laboratory food as did providing fermenting host plant tissue during mating trials. Also, surprisingly, smaller mating chambers led to an increase in premating isolation versus larger containers. The design of these types of mating trials is thus critical to understanding how mating behaviors in the laboratory are related to those in natural populations.