Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease associated with oxidative stress and characterized by chronic inflammation. Kidney malfunction, an aggressive characteristic of this disease, is not present in all affected individuals. The Nrf2-Keap1 pathway is important in protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation. Mouse models and genome-wide scans have suggested NRF2 (Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2) as a candidate gene for susceptibility to SLE. We therefore investigated whether NRF2 polymorphisms are associated with childhood-onset SLE in a Mexican Mestizo population. Two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped by TaqMan((R)) assays in 362 patients with childhood-onset SLE and 379 controls. We found no significant association between susceptibility to SLE and NRF2 polymorphisms. However, after population stratification by gender, the heterozygous genotype of the -653G/A SNP was significantly associated with nephritis in females only [OR = 1.81, CI (1.04-3.12), p = 0.032]. This association was stronger in females affected with severe nephritis [classes IV-VI; OR = 2.16, CI (1.12-4.15), p = 0.019]. Our results suggest that NRF2 is not associated with susceptibility to childhood-onset SLE, but it could confer a risk for developing kidney malfunction in SLE-affected individuals.