Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the US and its impact continues to increase in women. Oxidant insults during critical periods of early life appear to increase risk of COPD through-out the life course. To better understand susceptibility to early life exposure to oxidant air pollutants we used Fisher (F344), Sprague-Dawley (SD) and Wistar (WIS) male and female neonatal rat pups to assess: (A) if strain (i.e. genetics), sex, or stage of early life development affected baseline lung antioxidant or redox enzyme levels and (B) if these same factors modulated antioxidant responsiveness to acute ozone exposure (1 ppm × 2 h) on post-natal day (PND) 14, 21, or 28. In air-exposed pups from PND14-28, some parameters were unchanged (e.g. uric acid), some decreased (e.g. superoxide dismutase), while others increased (e.g. glutathione recycling enzymes) especially post-weaning. Lung total glutathione levels decreased in F344 and SD pups, but were relatively unchanged in WIS pups. Post-ozone exposure, data suggest that: (1) the youngest (PND14) pups were the most adversely affected; (2) neonatal SD and WIS pups, especially females, were more prone to ozone effects than males of the same age and (3) F344 neonates (females and males) were less susceptible to oxidative lung insult, not unlike F344 adults. Differences in antioxidant levels and responsiveness between sexes and strains and at different periods of development may provide a basis for assessing later life health outcomes - with implications for humans with analogous genetic or dietary-based lung antioxidant deficits.