Tactile defensiveness (TD) is a disturbance in sensory processing and is observed in some children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). TD has been examined in male children with ADHD and in children with ADHD without differentiating by sex. As males and females with ADHD may differ in the clinical expression of the disorder and associated deficits, the aim of this study was to examine sex differences in TD in males and females with ADHD. Non-affected siblings were also examined to investigate familiality of TD. The Touch Inventory for Elementary-School-Aged Children was administered to 47 children with ADHD (35 males, 12 females; mean age 9y 8mo [SD 1y 11mo]), 36 non-affected siblings (21 males, 15 females; mean age 8y 10mo [SD 2y 4mo]), and 35 control children (16 males, 19 females; mean age 9y 5mo [SD 6mo]). Results indicated that females with ADHD displayed higher levels of TD than males with ADHD (who did not differ from control males). This suggests that TD is sex specific and may contribute to the identification of ADHD in females, thus improving diagnostic and therapeutic strength in this under-referred group. Non-affected siblings were unimpaired, regardless of sex, which suggests that TD is specific to the disorder and not part of a familial risk for ADHD. © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.