The effects of different sequences of food restriction and fattening have been studied on plasma metabolites and hormones in double-muscled Belgian Blue bulls. Twenty animals were divided into five groups. The first group (control, CG) was given, ad libitum, a fattening diet based on sugar-beet pulp. In G2 and G3, fattening was interrupted after 103 and 187 days, respectively, by a period of food restriction lasting about 2 months during which the animals received a maintenance ration. They were finished with the same diet as CG. The last two groups, G4 and G5, received a limited amount of the restriction diet to support 0·5 and 0 kg gain per day, respectively, for 4 months, before being fattened as CG. Plasma glucose, alpha-amino nitrogen, non-esterified fatty acids, urea, creatinine, thyroxine (T4), 3, 3’, 5’-tri-iodothyroxine (T3), and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) were measured in blood samples taken every 2 weeks. Plasma GH and insulin profiles were measured in serial blood samples obtained at three different times during growth. Animals that showed compensatory growth had lower plasma urea, associated with high levels of T3, T4 and IGF–1. Animals from G2 and G3 failed to show compensatory growth. In Belgian Blue bulls, compensatory growth is markedly affected when food restriction is severe or fattening interrupted.