The characteristics of the progenitor stars of different types of core-collapse supernovae are still uncertain in many important respects, despite recent successes in identifying progenitors in pre-explosion imaging. In my talk, I will describe our approach to this problem, which is based on an analysis of the recent star-formation activity and metallicity of the regions immediately surrounding some hundreds of low-redshift supernovae. I will then describe how we are using supernovae as probes of high-mass star formation, leading to some surprising initial results on the the nature of the stellar populations that result from starbursts in disturbed galaxies.