This study investigated the effect of sex differences on circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in prehypertension and its underlying mechanism. The authors found that premenopausal women show increased number and activity of circulating EPCs when compared with men, which was similar to enhanced nitric oxide (NO) level in plasma or culture medium. There was no difference in the number and activity of circulating EPCs and NO level between normotensive and prehypertensive premenopausal women. There was also no difference seen in levels of vascular endothelial growth factor and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Both number and activity of circulating EPCs were correlated with the level of NO. The present study firstly demonstrated that the number and activity of circulating EPCs were preserved in prehypertensive premenopausal women, which was related to the restoration of NO production. The sex differences in EPCs in prehypertension may be involved in the mechanism underlying vascular protection in premenopausal women.