Long-chain fatty acids are capable of inducing alterations in the homoeostasis of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), but the effect of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) is poorly elucidated. In the present study, we fed a normoenergetic MCFA diet to male rats from the age of 1 month to the age of 4 months in order to analyse the effect of MCFA on body growth, insulin sensitivity and GSIS. The 45 % MCFA substitution of whole fatty acids in the normoenergetic diet impaired whole body growth and resulted in increased body adiposity and hyperinsulinaemia, and reduced insulin-mediated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. In addition, the isolated pancreatic islets from the MCFA-fed rats showed impaired GSIS and reduced protein kinase Bα (AKT1) protein expression and extracellular signal-related kinase isoforms 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation, which were accompanied by increased cellular death. Furthermore, there was a mildly increased cholinergic sensitivity to GSIS. We discuss these findings in further detail, and advocate that they might have a role in the mechanistic pathway leading to the compensatory hyperinsulinaemic status found in this animal model.