Chronic oxidative stress and inflammation are major mediators of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and result in impaired activation of the cytoprotective transcription factor Nrf2. Given the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in CKD pathogenesis, strategies aimed at restoring Nrf2 activity may attenuate CKD progression.The present study investigated whether the synthetic triterpenoid RTA dh404 (2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid-9,11-dihydro-trifluoroethyl amide or CDDO-dhTFEA) would afford renal protection in a 5/6 nephrectomized rat model of CKD. RTA dh404 (2mg/kg/day) was orally administered once daily for 12 weeks after 5/6 nephrectomy surgery.The remnant kidneys from the vehicle-treated CKD rats showed activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB), upregulation of NAD(P)H oxidase, glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis and inflammation, as well as marked reductions in Nrf2 and its target gene products (i.e. catalase, heme oxygenase-1, thioredoxin 1, thioredoxin reductase 1 and peroxiredoxin 1). The functional and structural deficits in the kidney were associated with increased (∼30%) mean arterial pressure (MAP). Treatment with RTA dh404 restored MAP, increased Nrf2 and expression of its target genes, attenuated activation of NF-κB and transforming growth factor-β pathways, and reduced glomerulosclerosis, interstitial fibrosis and inflammation in the CKD rats.Thus, chronic treatment with RTA dh404 was effective in restoring Nrf2 activity and slowing CKD progression in rats following 5/6 nephrectomy. © 2014 Informa UK Ltd.