Newborn pigs rely essentially on shivering thermogenesis in the cold. In order to understand the rapid postnatal enhancement of thermogenic capacities in piglets, the oxygen and nutrient uptake of hindquarters was measured in vivo in 1- (n = 6) and 5-day-old (n = 6) animals at thermal neutrality and during cold exposure. The hindquarters were considered to represent a skeletal muscle compartment. Indirect calorimetry and arterio-venous techniques were used. The cold challenge (23¡C at 1 day old and 15¡C at 5 days old for 90 min) induced a similar increase (+90 %) in regulatory heat production at both ages. Hindquarters blood flow was higher at 5 days than 1 day old at thermal neutrality (26 ± 3 vs. 17 ± 1 ml min-1 (100 g hindquarters)-1) and its increase in the cold was much more marked (+65 % at 5 days old vs. +25 % at 1 day old). Oxygen extraction by the hindquarters rose from 30-35 % at thermal neutrality to 65-70 % in the cold at both ages. The calculated contribution of skeletal muscle to total oxygen consumption averaged 34-40 % at thermal neutrality and 50-64 % in the cold and skeletal muscle was the major contributor to regulatory thermogenesis. Based on hindquarters glucose uptake and lactate release, carbohydrate appeared to be an important fuel for shivering. However, net uptake of fatty acids increased progressively during cold exposure at 5 days old. The enhancement in muscular blood supply and fatty acid utilization during shivering is probably related to the postnatal improvement in the thermoregulatory response of the piglet.