Feed form is well recognized to improve broiler performance, specially by increasing feed intake (FI). However, when different diet energy levels are used, the results differ in the literature. Therefore, this experiment was conducted to evaluate the influence of feed form and dietary metabolizable energy (ME) levels on broiler performance, carcass yield and on the digestibility of DM, CP, starch and gross energy. In total, 1152 male Cobb 500 broilers were evaluated between 35 and 47 days. The birds were distributed according to a completely randomized design in a 2 × 4 factorial arrangement, consisting of two feed forms (mash or pellet) and four ME levels (12.73, 13.06, 13.40 or 13.73 MJ/kg), totaling eight treatments with eight replicates of 18 birds. Broilers fed the lowest ME level presented the lowest weight gain (WG) and worst feed per unit gain (P < 0.01). Metabolizable energy intake increased (P < 0.01) with progressive increments of ME, which, however, did not affect caloric conversion (CC, P > 0.05). Pelleted diets promoted higher FI, WG, ME intake (P < 0.01) and better feed per unit gain and CC (P < 0.05) compared with mash. In mash diets, increasing dietary ME levels promoted a linear increase in WG (P < 0.01) and reduced feed per unit gain (P ≤ 0.05), but did not affect FI (P > 0.05). In pelleted diets, on the other hand, increasing ME levels linearly reduced FI (P < 0.05) and feed per unit gain (P < 0.01). Broilers fed pelleted diets presented higher abdominal fat deposition than those fed mash (P < 0.05). Increasing ME levels reduced the coefficients of ileal apparent digestibility of DM (P < 0.01) and total starch (P < 0.05) but did not affect the digestibility of other evaluated nutrients. The digestibility of all nutrients was lower when pelleted diets were fed compared with mash. Increasing inert material inclusion in the diets at the expense of soybean oil to reduce dietary ME levels promoted higher pellet durability index values (P < 0.05) and the percentage of fines (P < 0.01). Overall, the results suggest that pelleted diets promote better broiler performance because they increase FI, since the digestibility of dietary fractions is reduced. Chickens consuming low-energy pelleted diets may increase FI to compensate for energy deficit. In contrast, broilers fed mash diets may have reached their maximum intake capacity and did not regulate FI by changing feed energy density. When feeding pelleted diets, dietary energy reduction should be considered to reduce feed costs and to improve the carcass quality of broilers.