The identification of natural bioactive compounds which can prevent the post-weaning growth check and enhance gastrointestinal health in the absence of in-feed medications is an urgent priority for the swine industry. The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of increasing dietary inclusion levels of laminarin in the first 14 d post-weaning on pig growth performance and weaning associated intestinal dysfunction. At weaning, ninety-six pigs (8·4 (sd 1·09) kg) (meatline boars × (large white × landrace sows)) were blocked by live weight, litter and sex and randomly assigned to: (1) basal diet; (2) basal + 100 parts per million (ppm) laminarin; (3) basal + 200 ppm laminarin and (4) basal + 300 ppm laminarin (three pigs/pen). The appropriate quantity of a laminarin-rich extract (65 % laminarin) was added to the basal diet to achieve the above dietary inclusion levels of laminarin. After 14 d of supplementation, eight pigs from the basal group and the best-performing laminarin group were euthanised for sample collection. The 300 ppm laminarin group was selected as this group had higher ADFI compared with all other groups and higher ADG than the basal group (P < 0·05). Laminarin supplementation increased villus height in the duodenum and jejunum (P < 0·05). Laminarin supplementation increased the expression of SLC2A8/GLUT8 in the duodenum, SLC2A2/GLUT2, SLC2A7/GLUT7, SLC15A1/PEPT1 and FABP2 in the jejunum and SLC16A1/MCT1 in the colon. Laminarin supplementation reduced Enterobacteriaceae numbers in the caecum (P < 0·05) and increased lactobacilli numbers (P < 0·05), total volatile fatty acid concentrations and the molar proportions of butyrate (P < 0·01) in the colon. In conclusion, 300 ppm laminarin from a laminarin-rich extract has potential, as a dietary supplement, to improve performance and prevent post-weaning intestinal dysfunction.