We sought to examine whether rat maternal food restriction (MFR) affects the expression of steroidogenesis-related genes Cyp19, Cyp17a1, Insl3 and Gdf-9 in the ovaries of offspring from the first (FRG1) and second (FRG2) generations at pre-pubertal age (week 4) and during adulthood (week 8). At week 4, MFR significantly increased the expression of RNAs for all analyzed genes in both FRG1 and FRG2 females, which may indicate that MFR affects the onset of the reproductive lifespan, by inducing early pubertal onset. At week 8, the Cyp19 gene was still upregulated in MRF-subjected animals (Cyp19: P=0.0049 and P=0.0508 in FRG1 and FRG2, respectively), but MFR induced a significant decrease in Cyp17 and Gdf-9 gene expression in the offspring of both FRG1 and FRG2 females when compared with the controls (Cyp17: P=0.0018 and P=0.0016, respectively; Gdf-9: P=0.0047 and P=0.0023, respectively). This suggests that females at week 8, which should normally be in their optimal reproductive capacity, experience premature ovarian aging. At week 4, the activation of Cyp19 and Cyp17 was higher in the FRG1 ovaries than in the FRG2 ovaries, whereas the extent of Insl3 and Gdf-9 activation was lower in the FRG1 ovaries. This may indicate that FRG2 females were more vulnerable to MFR than their mothers (FRG1) and grandmothers, which is consistent with the ‘predictive adaptive response’ hypothesis. Our findings reveal that MFR may induce intergenerational ovarian changes as an adaptive response to ensure reproductive success before death.