There is a sex difference in hypertensive renal injury, with men experiencing greater severity and a more rapid progression of renal disease than women; however, the molecular mechanisms protecting against renal injury in women are unknown. The goal of this study was to determine whether sex hormones modulate blood pressure and the progression of albuminuria during the developmental phase of hypertension in male and female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Studies were also performed to examine how sex and sex hormones influence two major risk factors for albuminuria, overactivation of the renin-angiotensin system and oxidative stress. Blood pressure was measured by telemetry in gonad-intact and gonadectomized male and female SHR. Microalbumin excretion, measured over time, and macrophage infiltration were used to assess renal health. Male SHR had significantly higher blood pressures than female SHR, and gonadectomy decreased blood pressures in males with no effect in females. Male SHR displayed a gonad-sensitive increase in albuminuria over time, and female SHR had a gonad-sensitive suppression in macrophage infiltration. Female SHR had greater plasma ANG II levels and similar levels of renal cortical ANG II vs. levels shown in males but less AT1-receptor protein expression in the renal cortex. Female SHR also had a gonad-sensitive decrease in renal oxidative stress. Therefore, the renal protection afforded to female SHR is associated with lower blood pressure, decreased macrophage infiltration, and decreased levels of oxidative stress. Copyright © 2007 the American Physiological Society.