Branched-chain volatile fatty acids (BCVFA) supplements could promote lactation performance and milk quality by improving ruminal fermentation and milk fatty acid synthesis. This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of BCVFA supplementation on milk performance, ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility and mRNA expression of genes related to fatty acid synthesis in mammary gland of dairy cows. A total of 36 multiparous Chinese Holstein cows averaging 606±4.7 kg of BW, 65±5.2 day in milk (DIM) with daily milk production of 30.6±0.72 kg were assigned to one of four groups blocked by lactation number, milk yield and DIM. The treatments were control, low-BCVFA (LBCVFA), medium-BCVFA (MBCVFA) and high-BCVFA (HBCVFA) with 0, 30, 60 and 90 g BCVFA per cow per day, respectively. Experimental periods were 105 days with 15 days of adaptation and 90 days of data collection. Dry matter (DM) intake tended to increase, but BW changes were similar among treatments. Yields of actual milk, 4% fat corrected milk, milk fat and true protein linearly increased, but feed conversion ratio (FCR) linearly decreased with increasing BCVFA supplementation. Milk fat content linearly increased, but true protein content tended to increase. Contents of C4:0, C6:0, C8:0, C10:0, C12:0, C14:0 and C15:0 fatty acids in milk fat linearly increased, whereas other fatty acids were not affected with increasing BCVFA supplementation. Ruminal pH, ammonia N concentration and propionate molar proportion linearly decreased, but total VFA production and molar proportions of acetate and butyrate linearly increased with increasing BCVFA supplementation. Consequently, acetate to propionate ratios linearly increased. Digestibilities of DM, organic matter, CP, NDF and ADF also linearly increased. In addition, mRNA expressions of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, sterol regulatory element-binding factor 1 and fatty acid-binding protein 3 linearly increased, mRNA expressions of acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase-α, fatty acid synthase and stearoyl-CoA desaturase quadratically increased. However, lipoprotein lipase mRNA expression was not affected by treatments. The results indicated that lactation performance and milk fat synthesis increased with BCVFA supplementation by improving ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility and mRNA expressions of genes related to milk fat synthesis.