Whole-grain cereal breakfast consumption has been associated with beneficial effects on glucose and insulin metabolism as well as satiety. Pearl millet is a popular ancient grain variety that can be grown in hot, dry regions. However, little is known about its health effects. The present study investigated the effect of a pearl millet porridge (PMP) compared with a well-known Scottish oats porridge (SOP) on glycaemic, gastrointestinal, hormonal and appetitive responses. In a randomised, two-way crossover trial, twenty-six healthy participants consumed two isoenergetic/isovolumetric PMP or SOP breakfast meals, served with a drink of water. Blood samples for glucose, insulin, glucagon-like peptide 1, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), peptide YY, gastric volumes and appetite ratings were collected 2 h postprandially, followed by an ad libitum meal and food intake records for the remainder of the day. The incremental AUC (iAUC2h) for blood glucose was not significantly different between the porridges (P > 0·05). The iAUC2h for gastric volume was larger for PMP compared with SOP (P = 0·045). The iAUC2h for GIP concentration was significantly lower for PMP compared with SOP (P = 0·001). Other hormones and appetite responses were similar between meals. In conclusion, the present study reports, for the first time, data on glycaemic and physiological responses to a pearl millet breakfast, showing that this ancient grain could represent a sustainable alternative with health-promoting characteristics comparable with oats. GIP is an incretin hormone linked to TAG absorption in adipose tissue; therefore, the lower GIP response for PMP may be an added health benefit.