The sympathoadrenal axis contributes to the sexual dimorphism of the inflammatory response. As stress both activates the sympathoadrenal axis and profoundly affects inflammation and inflammatory disease, we evaluated whether stress exerts a sexually dimorphic effect on a major component of the inflammatory response, plasma extravasation. We evaluated the effect of a nonhabituating stress, repeated intermittent sound (30 min/day for 4 days), on neurogenic synovial plasma extravasation, induced by bradykinin in the rat knee joint. Sound stress profoundly inhibited bradykinin-induced plasma extravasation in male rats, but profoundly enhanced it in female rats. These effects took 24 h to fully develop after the last exposure to stress. In gonadectomized males, bradykinin-induced plasma extravasation was lower than intact males, and sound stress now enhanced it, i.e. gonadectomized males were phenotypically like intact females. In gonadectomized females, bradykinin-induced plasma extravasation was greater than in intact adult females, and sound stress still enhanced it. Adrenal enucleation significantly attenuated the effect of sound stress on bradykinin-induced plasma extravasation in both male and female rats. We tested the hypothesis that these effects of sound stress were due to sustained enhanced plasma levels of stress hormones. Corticosterone and epinephrine, only when administered in combination, over five days, produced a qualitatively similar effect as sound stress, i.e. bradykinin-induced plasma extravasation was significantly decreased in males and increased in females. These findings suggest that a combined effect of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal and sympathoadrenal stress axes are responsible for the marked sexual dimorphism in the effect of stress on the inflammatory response.