Acrolein is a highly toxic, volatile, unsaturated aldehyde generated during incomplete combustion as in tobacco smoke and indoor fires. Because the transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) channel mediates tobacco smoke-induced lung injury, we assessed its role in high-level acrolein-induced toxicity in mice. Acrolein (100–275 ppm, 10–30 min) caused upper airway epithelial sloughing, bradypnea and oral gasping, hypothermia, cardiac depression and mortality. Male wild-type mice (WT, C57BL/6; 5–52 weeks) were significantly more sensitive to high-level acrolein than age-matched, female WT mice. Both male and female TRPA1-null mice were more sensitive to acrolein-induced mortality than age- and sex-matched WT mice. Acrolein exposure increased lung weight:body weight ratios and lung albumin and decreased plasma albumin to a greater extent in TRPA1-null than in WT mice. Lung and plasma protein-acrolein adducts were not increased in acrolein-exposed TRPA1-null mice compared with WT mice. To assess TRPA1-dependent protective mechanisms, respiratory parameters were monitored by telemetry. TRPA1-null mice had a slower onset of breathing rate suppression (‘respiratory braking’) than WT mice suggesting TRPA1 mediates this protective response. Surprisingly, WT male mice treated either with a TRPA1 antagonist (HC030031; 200 mg/kg) alone or with combined TRPA1 (100 mg/kg) and TRPV1 (capsazepine, 10 mg/kg) antagonists at 30 min post-acrolein exposure (i.e., “real world” delay in treatment) were significantly protected from acrolein-induced mortality. These data show TRPA1 protects against high-level acrolein-induced toxicity in a sex-dependent manner. Post-exposure TRPA1 antagonism also protected against acrolein-induced mortality attesting to a complex role of TRPA1 in cardiopulmonary injury.