Growing lambs were fed the same diet at intakes supporting mean live weight gains of 0·1, 0·2 and 0·3 kg day-1, representing slow, intermediate and fast growth groups, respectively. The effects on bone growth and composition, and on blood and urinary bone marker concentrations or excretion rates were monitored. Compared with the slow-growing lambs, the higher intake group grew twice as fast, had higher rates of bone growth (indicated by external metatarsal length), and larger and heavier bones at slaughter. Bones from fast-growing animals had higher collagen and deoxypyridinoline concentrations, and lower Ca:collagen, Ca :P and pyridinoline : deoxypyridinoline ratios, indicating a less mature bone compared with the slow-growing lambs. Bone growth rate had no effect on plasma osteocalcin, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase or growth hormone concentrations, nor on the urinary excretion of pyridinoline and deoxypyridinoline. The results for plasma markers may be explained by an increase in blood volume linked with increased body weight.