Résumé: Abstract Oxidative stress has been proposed as a central causal mechanism underlying the life?history trade?off between current and future reproduction and survival in wild animals. While mixed evidence suggests that maternal oxidative stress may act both as a constraint and a cost to reproduction, some studies have reported a lack of association between reproduction and maternal oxidative stress. The oxidative shielding hypothesis offers an alternative explanation, suggesting that mothers may pre?emptively mitigate the oxidative costs of reproduction by increasing antioxidant defences prior to reproduction. We tested the oxidative constraint, cost and shielding hypotheses using a longitudinal field study of oxidative stress levels in a species that breeds using daily energy income, the Columbian ground squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus). Elevated maternal oxidative damage prior to reproduction was associated with higher maternal investment in litter mass at birth, but not at weaning. Breeding females increased their antioxidant capacity and decreased their oxidative damage from birth to lactation, compared to non?breeding females measured at the same time periods. However, lower maternal oxidative stress during lactation was not associated with higher offspring survival or mass growth over this period. Our results provide little evidence for maternal oxidative stress acting as a constraint on, or cost to, reproduction in Columbian ground squirrels, but partially support the idea that oxidative shielding occurred to buffer potential oxidative costs of reproduction. A plain language summary is available for this article.