To determine possible mechanisms of action that might explain the nutrient partitioning effect of betaine and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in Iberian pigs and to address potential adverse effects, twenty gilts were restrictively fed from 20 to 50 kg BW Control, 0.5% betaine, 1% CLA or 0.5% betaine + 1% CLA diets. Serum hormones and metabolites profile were determined at 30 kg BW and an oral glucose test was performed before slaughter. Pigs were slaughtered at 50 kg BW and livers were obtained for chemical and histological analysis. Decreased serum urea in pigs fed betaine and betaine + CLA diets (11%; P = 0.0001) indicated a more efficient N utilization. The increase in serum triacylglycerol (58% and 28%, respectively; P = 0.0098) indicated that CLA and betaine + CLA could have reduced adipose tissue triacylglycerol synthesis from preformed fatty acids. Serum glucose, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and non-esterified fatty acids were unaffected. CLA and betaine + CLA altered serum lipids profile, although liver of pigs fed CLA diet presented no histopathological changes and triglyceride content was not different from Control pigs. Compared with controls, serum growth hormone decreased (20% to 23%; P = 0.0209) for all treatments. Although serum insulin increased in CLA, and especially in betaine + CLA pigs (28% and 83%; P = 0.0001), indices of insulin resistance were unaffected. In conclusion, CLA, and especially betaine + CLA, induced changes in biochemical parameters and hormones that may partially explain a nutrient partitioning effect in young pigs. Nevertheless, they exhibited weak, although detrimental, effects on blood lipids. Moreover, although livers were chemically and histologically normal, pigs fed CLA diet challenged with a glucose load had higher serum glucose than controls.