Male gender and age appear to be causative factors in development of immunodepression and septic complications following trauma-haemorrhage. Studies have demonstrated that administration of the sex hormone prolactin following trauma-haemorrhage in male mice prevents immunodepression. Since the thymus is the primary location of the T-cell-lymphopoiesis, we investigated the effect of trauma-haemorrhage to thymic prolactin-receptor (PRLr)-expression in male and proestrus female mice in three different age groups (young, adult, aged) by flow cytometry and PCR. C3H/HeN mice were subjected to laparotomy (i.e., soft-tissue trauma) and hemorrhagic shock (35 ± 5 mmHg for 90 min, then resuscitated) or sham operation. Twenty-four hours later thymocytes were isolated. Trauma-haemorrhage upregulated PRLr expression in young and mature mice of both genders, however, the increase was attenuated in females. In contrast, in aged mice PRLr expression was elevated in both genders, independent of trauma-haemorrhage and was not further increased under such conditions. These findings suggest that the gender dimorphism in the immune response to trauma-haemorrhage may in part be related to differences in thymic PRLr expression under such conditions. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.