Although the growth-promoting action of sodium-butyrate (Na-butyrate) used as a feed additive has been observed in calves and pigs, the precise mechanisms involved remain to be clarified. In this study, pre-weaning calves were given milk formula (MF) supplemented with butyrate for 6 weeks to investigate its effects on postprandial changes in the plasma concentrations of metabolic hormones, and, simultaneously, on growth performance, the weight of the digestive organs and rumen papilla development. Ingestion of MF increased (P<0·05) the plasma concentrations of GH and insulin as well as the glucose level, but decreased the non-esterified fatty acid concentration. Na-butyrate supplementation in MF or in lactose solution (with the same quantity of lactose contained in the MF, 5%) suppressed the increase in plasma insulin and GH concentrations, and the plasma IGF1 level was not changed. The length of the rumen papilla and the weight of the perirenal fat tended to increase in the calves fed with Na-butyrate-supplemented MF, but the weight of the liver, spleen, and stomach were not changed. In addition, there was no difference in the expression of mRNA for sodiumdependent glucose transporter-1 in the small intestinal epithelial tissues. We conclude that the accelerated growth performance related to the intake of Na-butyrate used as a feed additive reported previously in several species is partly due to improved insulin sensitivity and a better digestive functional development. These data could be applicable to animal and human nutrition.