Poor maternal nutrition during pregnancy can result in increased disease risk in adult offspring. Many of these effects are proposed to be mediated via altered hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPAA) function, and are sex and age specific. Maternal undernutrition around the time of conception alters HPAA function in foetal and early postnatal life, but there are limited conflicting data about later effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of moderate periconceptional undernutrition on HPAA function of offspring of both sexes longitudinally, from juvenile to adult life. Ewes were undernourished from 61 days before until 30 days after conception or fed ad libitum. HPAA function in offspring was assessed by arginine vasopressin plus corticotropin-releasing hormone challenge at 4, 10 and 18 months. Plasma cortisol response was lower in males than in females, and was not different between singles and twins. Periconceptional undernutrition suppressed offspring plasma cortisol but not adrenocorticotropic hormone responses. In males, this suppression was apparent by 4 months, and was more profound by 10 months, with no further change by 18 months. In females, suppression was first observed at 10 months and became more profound by 18 months. Maternal undernutrition limited to the periconceptional period has a prolonged, sex-dependent effect on adrenal function in the offspring.