Age-related large artery stiffening is more pronounced in women compared with men and is an important cause of isolated systolic hypertension. This study aimed to investigate whether such gender differences are inherent or the result of sex steroid influences. Healthy children prepuberty [26 female (10.3 +/- 0.1 yr), 32 male (10.3 +/- 0.1 yr), mean age +/- SD] and post puberty [30 female (15.9 +/- 0.2 yr), 22 male (15.9 +/- 0.4 yr)] were studied. Large artery stiffness was assessed globally via systemic arterial compliance and regionally via pulse wave velocity. Prepubertal males and females did not differ in body size, cardiac output, or heart rate. Prepubertal females had stiffer large arteries and higher pulse pressure than age-matched males (P < 0.05). Postpubertal males were taller and heavier and had a greater cardiac output and lower heart rate compared with similarly aged females. In relation to pubertal status, females developed more distensible large arteries post puberty whereas males developed stiffer large vessels (P < 0.05). These changes where such that central large artery stiffness was similar between genders in the postpubertal group. Together these data suggest that large artery stiffness varies intrinsically between genders but is also modulated by both male and female sex steroids.