Dietary n-3 PUFA have been demonstrated to promote muscle growth in growing animals. In the present study, fractional protein synthesis rates (FSR) in the skeletal muscle of growing pigs fed a DHA-enriched (DE) diet (DE treatment) or a soyabean oil (SO) diet (SO treatment) were evaluated in the fed and feed-deprived states. Feeding-induced increases in muscle FSR, as well as the activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin and protein kinase B, were higher in the DE treatment as indicated by the positive interaction between diet and feeding. In the fed state, the activation of eIF4E-binding protein 1 in the skeletal muscle of pigs on the DE diet was higher than that in pigs on the SO diet (P <0·05). Feeding the DE diet increased muscle insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) expression (P <0·05) and insulin action (as demonstrated by increased insulin receptor (IR) phosphorylation, P <0·05), resulting in increased IR substrate 1 activation in the fed state. However, no difference in plasma IGF-1 concentration or hepatic IGF-1 expression between the two treatments was associated. The increased IGF-1 expression in the DE treatment was associated with increased mRNA expression of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 5A and decreased mRNA expression of protein tyrosine phosphatase, non-receptor type 3 in skeletal muscle. Moreover, mRNA expression of protein tyrosine phosphatase, non-receptor type 1 (PTPN1), the activation of PTPN1 and the activation of NF-κB in muscle were significantly lower in the DE treatment (P <0·05). The results of the present study suggest that feeding a DE diet increased feeding-induced muscle protein synthesis in growing pigs, and muscle IGF-1 expression and insulin action were involved in this action.