In order to assess the effect of feeding deprivation on growth and condition of field-caught newly settled juvenile plaice Pleuronectes platessa, a 3 week starvation experiment was conducted and changes in RNA/DNA ratio, Fulton's K condition index and recent otolith growth were measured. Fed ad libitum and starved fish were analysed after 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 14, 16 and 22 days of starvation. In parallel, field newly settled juvenile plaice were collected weekly over the settlement period (between April and May 2005) in the adjacent intertidal zone of the Canche estuary (eastern English Channel, France) and fish performances were estimated. After starvation day 4, Fulton's K condition index and RNA/DNA ratio of juvenile plaice significantly differed between treatments while recent otolith growth differed between treatments after day 9 of the experiment procedure. Results indicate that the three biological parameters are sensitive indices and can be used to accurately assess nutritional condition of wild juvenile fish. Values of 0.32 for RNA/DNA, 0.83 mg. mm−3 for Fulton's K index, and 3.99 µm for recent otolith daily growth were defined as critical threshold values below which juvenile plaice can be classified as ‘starving'. When comparing these experimental values with those from field-caught newly settled juvenile plaice, less than 1% of wild individuals can be classified as ‘starving' whatever the index. Our results suggest that feeding conditions throughout the settlement period on the Canche intertidal nursery ground are favourable to juvenile plaice development and survival, and hence to the recruitment success.