Pathophysiological states, including cardiovascular and renal diseases, are characterized by oxidative stress but what is less clear is whether physiological challenges incur a degree of altered oxidative metabolism. To this end, this study examined whether exposure to a high dietary sodium intake could cause an oxidative stress at the kidney. Animals, placed on either 0.3% or 3% sodium diets for 2 wk, were given a lethal dose of anesthetic, and kidneys were removed to analyze both NAD(P)H oxidase (NOX) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) expression and activities in the cortex and medulla. Placing animals on the high-sodium diet raised sodium and water excretion and caused an approximately 14-fold increase in urinary excretion of 8-isoprostane, a marker of oxidative stress, which was attenuated by chronic treatment with apocynin to prevent NAD(P)H oxidase activity. The protein expression of the NAD(P)H oxidase subunits NOX2 and p47(phox) and overall NAD(P)H oxidase activity were approximately doubled in the cortex of the rats on the high-sodium diet compared with those on the normal sodium intake while both SOD activity and expression were unchanged. By contrast, neither NOX nor SOD protein expression or activity were altered in the medulla when the rats were placed on the high-sodium intake. These data suggest that an elevation in dietary sodium intake can lead to increased generation of reactive oxygen species and a state of oxidative stress in the cortex but not to such a degree that it extends to the medulla.