In rats, 20 % gestational energy restriction programmes offspring for higher food intake, which in adulthood results in higher body weight in males but not in females. Here, we aimed to assess whether the effects of moderate energy restriction during gestation and the sex-related outcomes on adult body weight may be related to the metabolic programming of sirtuin expression in different tissues. For this purpose, 25-d-old offspring of control and 20 % energy-restricted (ER) rats (from days 1–12 of pregnancy) were studied. Body weight and the weight of white adipose tissue (WAT) depots and liver were recorded and mRNA expression of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and selected genes in the WAT, liver, muscle and hypothalamus were analysed. No differences were found in body weight or the weight of WAT and liver between the control and ER animals. A similar pattern of SIRT1 mRNA expression was found in the WAT, liver and skeletal muscle of ER animals, but in a sex-dependent manner: ER males showed lower SIRT1 mRNA levels than the controls, while no differences were found in females. A sex-different pattern was also observed in the hypothalamus. ER males, but not females, also showed lower mRNA levels of adipose TAG lipase (ATGL) and uncoupling protein 2 in WAT and of sterol response element binding protein 1c and stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 in the liver. Both sexes of ER animals showed lower mRNA levels of 5′ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase and ATGL in the liver. In conclusion, moderate maternal energy restriction during gestation programmes a particular, sex-dependent gene expression profile of SIRT1 in different peripheral tissues, which may be related to obesity predisposition in adulthood; therefore SIRT1 expression emerges as a potential early biomarker of obesity susceptibility.