An experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of a high concentration of vitamin E supplementation in sow diet during the last week of gestation and lactation on the performance, milk composition, and vital immunological variables and antioxidative parameters in sows and piglets. The experiment started on day 107 of gestation and lasted until the piglets were weaned on day 21 of lactation. 48 sows were divided into two groups and fed either a basal diet with 44 IU/kg of vitamin E or a basal diet supplemented with additional vitamin E, total content of 250 IU/kg. Sow milk and blood samples were obtained on day 0 (farrowing) and on day 21 of lactation. One 21-day-old piglet per litter was selected to collect plasma. Results showed that supplementation of the maternal diet with 250 IU/kg vitamin E improved the average daily gain (ADG) and weaning weight of piglets (P < 0·05), and the concentrations of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) in sow plasma, colostrum and milk. The concentrations of fat in the colostrum and milk were significantly increased by supplementation with 250 IU/kg of vitamin E (P < 0·05). The level of plasma IgG, IgA, total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) and catalase (CAT) were all higher (P < 0·05) in piglets from sows that were fed 250 IU/kg of vitamin E than in those from the control group. The high concentration of vitamin E supplementation to the sows enhanced the concentrations of α-tocopherol in the sow milk and plasma as well as piglet plasma (P < 0·05). In conclusion, the addition to the maternal diet of vitamin E at high concentration improved the weight of piglets at weaning, and enhanced humoral immune function and antioxidant activity in sows and piglets.