The effect of feeding two levels of Saccharomyces cerevisiae on the performance of crossbred Friesian calves was investigated. Twenty-four neonatal male Friesian × Baladi calves (35·5 ± 0·25 kg of initial body weight) were randomly assigned in a completely randomized design into three experimental groups for 90 days (eight calves per group). Calves fed their diets without yeast (S. cerevisiae) were considered as Control, while the diets of other calves were supplemented daily either with 2·5 g (YL diet) or with 5 g (YH diet) of yeast per calf. Calves fed the YH diet showed increased feed intake, while dry matter and fibre digestibilities were increased in calves fed YH and YL diets. Calves fed YL and YH diets showed lower ruminal ammonia-N and higher total volatile fatty acids, acetate and propionate concentrations than Control calves. Both YH and YL calves showed increased plasma concentrations of total protein, globulin and glucose and decreased cholesterol and triglycerides concentrations. Calves’ final weight and daily gain were increased with S. cerevisiae yeast supplemented diets. After 42 days of experiment, Clostridium spp., Escherichia coli and Enterobacteria spp. counts were down to undetectable levels in the faeces of calves fed S. cerevisiae additive. It could be concluded that adding S. cerevisiae to milk-fed calves increased feed utilization and improved pre-weaned calf performance and health status, reducing faecal pathogenic bacteria.