Recent clinical studies have shown a sex dimorphism of morbidity and mortality due to shock, trauma, and sepsis, with females tolerating these insults better than males. Experimental animal studies have suggested that sex hormones have a pivotal role in this dimorphism. In the present investigation, a prospective cohort study at a university level-1 trauma center was conducted to evaluate the association between sex hormones and alterations in coagulation and inflammation. Patients with an admission to the intensive care unit, injury severity score (ISS) greater than 4, and obtainable consent were included in the study. In addition to routine clinical laboratories and patient outcomes, plasma TNF-[alpha], IL-6, IL-8, estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone were measured. Sixty-two patients (71% men, 29% women) met criteria for entry. Mean age was 42 +/- 17 years, and mean ISS was 23 +/- 13, with no statistical difference in age or ISS between sexes. Estradiol levels were positively correlated with ISS (P < 0.05) and negatively correlated with TNF-[alpha] (P < 0.01). Initial estradiol levels were higher in patients who developed an infection (P < 0.05). Testosterone was negatively correlated with age (P < 0.01) and was higher in patients who developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (P < 0.05) and in patients who did not survive (P < 0.05). The estradiol-to-progesterone ratio (E2-Pr) was higher in the survivors (P < 0.05). The E2-Pr had positive correlations with fibrinogen levels, rate of fibrin deposition and cross-linking, and overall clot strength (P < 0.05). Estradiol-to-progesterone ratio was negatively correlated with partial thromboplastin times (P < 0.01). In men, the E2-Pr was also negatively correlated with the time to onset of clot formation (P = 0.03). Sex hormone levels (or their ratios) were not correlated to platelet count or international normalized ratios. These findings provide evidence that sex hormone levels in the early posttraumatic period are significantly associated with alterations in the hemostatic and inflammatory response to trauma.