Maternal under-nutrition (MUN) during gestation results in growth-restricted newborns with reduced glomerular number and subsequent hypertension. We investigated dysregulation of glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and MAPK–ERK (mitogen-activated protein kinase–extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase) signal pathway gene expression following MUN. MUN rats were 50% food restricted from embryonic day 10 till postnatal day 1. Kidneys were harvested at embryonic day (E)20, and postnatal days (P)1 and 21. Kidney protein expression was determined by Western blot. At E20, protein expression of growth factor receptor alpha 1 (GFRα1) and phosphorylated ERK1/2 and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)1/2 were reduced significantly, and immunohistochemistry confirmed reduction of phosphorylated ERK (pERK) with maintenance of pERK localization. Total MEK and ERK were unchanged. At P1, only GFRα1 and pERK1/2 were reduced significantly while at P21, expression of all growth factors except total MEK was unchanged. Total MEK was increased. Glomerular number was decreased by 19% in P21 kidneys and blood pressure was increased in 12-week-old rats. In conclusion, GDNF and MAPK–ERK signaling are dysregulated during active nephrogenesis in fetal and early newborn offspring kidneys in the MUN model. This may be a key mechanism in reduced offspring nephrogenesis and programmed hypertension.