Maternal protein restriction in rat pregnancy is associated with impaired renal development and age-related loss of renal function in the resulting offspring. Pregnant rats were fed either control or low-protein (LP) diets, and kidneys from their male offspring were collected at 4, 13, or 16 weeks of age. Mitochondrial state 3 and state 4 respiratory rates were decreased by a third in the LP exposed adults. The reduction in mitochondrial function was not explained by complex IV deficiency or altered expression of the complex I subunits that are typically associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Similarly, there was no evidence that LP-exposure resulted in greater oxidative damage to the kidney, differential expression of ATP synthetase β-subunit, and ATP-ADP translocase 1. mRNA expression of uncoupling protein 2 was increased in adult rats exposed to LP in utero, but there was no evidence of differential expression at the protein level. Exposure to maternal undernutrition is associated with a decrease in mitochondrial respiration in kidneys of adult rats. In the absence of gross disturbances in respiratory chain protein expression, programming of coupling efficiency may explain the long-term impact of the maternal diet.