Before sexual maturation, chickens (Gallus gallus) show high blood pressure (BP) and neointimal plaques in the lower abdominal aortae (AbA). We investigated age/sex-related changes in pulse wave velocity (PWV), elastin, collagen, and protein levels in AbA, and cardiac morphology to determine whether PWV increases during incremental increases in BP of maturing fowl, while arterial stiffness becomes dominant with aging. PWV (m/s) was significantly greater in male chicks (6-7 weeks, 9.3+/-0.8; females, 6.1+/-0.5) and remained high in cockerels (13 weeks), young (27-28 weeks), and adults (44-66 weeks). PWV increased in prepubertal pullets (10.0+/-0.9), dropped significantly in young hens, and remained low in adults. In contrast, medial thickness, protein levels, and collagen levels increased, while elastin/collagen ratios decreased, with maturation/aging. Males had heavier ventricular mass and thicker ventricular walls than females at all ages; left ventricular thickness decreased with maturation/aging. Thus, sustained high BP may have caused progressive medial hypertrophy, increased aortic rigidity, and enlarged hearts with left ventricular dilation. PWV of AbA was already greater in male chicks at an age when both sexes have similar collagen levels and low protein levels, suggesting that a factor other than structural stiffness may be an important determinant of PWV.