This study aimed to evaluate the effect of in ovo feeding (IOF) of vitamin C at embryonic age 11 (E11) on post-hatch performance, immune status and DNA methylation-related gene expression in broiler chickens. A total of 240 Arbor Acres breeder eggs (63 (sem 0·5) g) were randomly divided into two groups: normal saline and vitamin C (VC) groups. After incubation, newly hatched chicks from each group were randomly divided into six replicates with ten chicks per replicate. Hatchability, average daily feed intake (D21–42 and D1–42), and average daily gain and feed conversion ratio (D1–21) were improved by vitamin C treatment (P < 0·05). IOF of vitamin C increased vitamin C content (D1), total antioxidant capacity (D42), IgA (D1), IgM (D1 and D21), stimulation index for T lymphocyte (D35) and lysozyme activity (D21) in plasma (P < 0·05). On D21, vitamin C increased the splenic expression of IL-4 and DNMT1 and decreased IL-1β, Tet2, Tet3 and Gadd45β expression (P < 0·05). On D42, vitamin C increased the splenic expression of IL-4 and DNMT3A and decreased IFN-γ, Tet3, MBD4 and TDG expression (P < 0·05). In conclusion, the vitamin C via in ovo injection can be absorbed by broiler’s embryo and IOF of vitamin C at E11 improves the post-hatch performance and immune status and, to some extent, the antioxidant capacity of broiler chickens. The expression of enzyme-related DNA methylation and demethylation indicates that the level of DNA methylation may increase in spleen in the VC group and whether the fluctuating expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines is related to DNA methylation change remained to be further investigated.