Breast-feeding is associated with maternal hormonal and metabolic changes ensuring adequate milk production. In this study, we investigate the impact of breast-feeding on the profile of changes in maternal appetite-regulating hormones 3–6 months postpartum. Study participants were age- and BMI-matched lactating mothers (n 10), non-lactating mothers (n 9) and women without any history of pregnancy or breast-feeding in the previous 12 months (control group, n 10). During study sessions, young mothers breast-fed or bottle-fed their babies, and maternal blood samples were collected at five time points during 90 min: before, during and after feeding the babies. Outcome parameters were plasma concentrations of ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY), leptin, adiponectin, prolactin, cortisol, insulin, glucose and lipid values. At baseline, circulating PYY concentrations were significantly increased in lactating mothers (100·3 (se 6·7) pg/ml) v. non-lactating mothers (73·6 (se 4·9) pg/ml, P=0·008) and v. the control group (70·2 (se 9) pg/ml, P=0·021). We found no differences in ghrelin, leptin and adiponectin values. Baseline prolactin concentrations were over 4-fold higher in lactating mothers (P<0·001). Lactating women had reduced TAG levels and LDL-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratio, but increased waist circumference, when compared with non-lactating women. Breast-feeding sessions further elevated circulating prolactin (P<0·001), but induced no acute effects on appetite-regulating hormones. In summary, one single breast-feeding session did not acutely modulate circulating appetite-regulating hormones, but increased baseline PYY concentrations are associated with prolonged lactation. PYY might play a role in the coordination of energy balance during lactation, increasing fat mobilisation from maternal depots and ensuring adequate milk production for the demands of the growing infant.