The aim of the present study was to determine whether increased consumption of methionine as dl-methionine (DLM) or its hydroxy analogue dl-2-hydroxy-4-methylthiobutanoic acid (HMTBA) could benefit milk synthesis and neonatal growth. For this purpose, eighteen cross-bred (Landrace × Yorkshire) primiparous sows were fed a control (CON), DLM or HMTBA diet (n 6 per diet) from 0 to 14 d post-partum. At postnatal day 14, piglets in the HMTBA group had higher body weight (P= 0·02) than those in the CON group, tended (P= 0·07) to be higher than those in the DLM group, and had higher (P< 0·05) mRNA abundance of jejunal fatty acid-binding protein 2, intestinal than those in the CON and DLM groups. Compared with the CON diet-fed sows, milk protein, non-fat solid, and lysine, histidine and ornithine concentrations decreased in the DLM diet-fed sows (P< 0·05), and milk fat, lactose, and cysteine and taurine concentrations increased in the HMTBA diet-fed sows (P< 0·05). Plasma homocysteine and urea N concentrations that averaged across time were increased (P< 0·05) in sows fed the DLM diet compared with those fed the CON diet. Metabolomic results based on 1H NMR spectroscopy revealed that consumption of the HMTBA and DLM diets increased (P< 0·05) both sow plasma methionine and valine levels; however, consumption of the DLM diet led to lower (P< 0·05) plasma levels of lysine, tyrosine, glucose and acetate and higher (P< 0·05) plasma levels of citrate, lactate, formate, glycerol, myo-inositol and N-acetyl glycoprotein in sows. Collectively, neonatal growth and milk synthesis were regulated by dietary methionine levels and sources, which resulted in marked alterations in amino acid, lipid and glycogen metabolism.