This study investigated the effects of maternal separation on the feeding behavior of rats. A maternal separation model was used on postnatal day 1 (PND1), forming the following groups: in the maternal separation (MS) group, pups were separated from their mothers each day from PND1 to PND14, whereas in the control (C) group pups were kept with their mothers. Subgroups were formed to study the effects of light and darkness: control with dark and light exposure, female and male (CF and CM), and maternal separation with dark and light exposure, female and male (SDF, SDM, SLF and SLM). Female rats had higher caloric intake relative to body weight compared with male controls in the dark period only (CF=23.3±0.5 v. CM=18.2±0.7, P<0.001). Macronutrient feeding preferences were observed, with male rats exhibiting higher caloric intake from a protein diet as compared with female rats (CF=4.1±0.7, n=8 v. CM=7.0±0.5, n=8, P<0.05) and satiety development was not interrupted. Female rats had a higher adrenal weight as compared with male rats independently of experimental groups and exhibited a higher concentration of serum triglycerides (n=8, P<0.001). The study indicates possible phenotypic adjustments in the structure of feeding behavior promoted by maternal separation, especially in the dark cycle. The dissociation between the mother’s presence and milk intake probably induces adjustments in feeding behavior during adulthood.