Pregnant ewes were fed either a 50% nutrient-restricted (NR; n= 8) or a control 100% (C; n= 8) diet from day 28 to day 78 of gestation (dGA; term = 150 dGA). Lambs were born naturally, and fed to appetite throughout the study period. At 245 +/- 1 days postnatal age (DPNA), offspring were instrumented for blood pressure measurements, with tissue collection at 270 DPNA. Protein expression was assessed using Western blot, glomerulus number determined via acid maceration and hormone changes by radioimmunoassay (RIA) or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). NR lambs had higher mean arterial pressure (MAP; 89.0 +/- 6.6 versus 73.4 +/- 1.6 mmHg; P < 0.05), fewer renal glomeruli (57.8 +/- 23.8 versus 64.6 +/- 19.3 x 10(4); P < 0.05), increased expression of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) in the renal cortex (942 +/- 130 versus 464 +/- 60 arbitrary pixel units (apu); P < 0.03), and increased angiotensin II receptor AT2 expression in the renal medulla (63.3 +/- 12.1 versus 19.5 +/- 44.2 x 10(4) apu; P < 0.03). All data are presented as mean +/-S.E.M. The present data indicate that global maternal nutrient restriction (50%) during early to mid-gestation impairs renal nephrogenesis, increases MAP, and alters expression of AT2 and ACE without an associated change in birth weight. These data demonstrate the existence of a critical window of fetal susceptibility during early to mid-gestation that alters kidney development and blood pressure regulation in later life.