A total of 240 pigs, 74 days old, half boars and half females, were included in a trial designed to assess the effect of the stress caused by changes in the pattern of food administration on the concentration of acute phase proteins (APP) and productive performance parameters. Half of the animals (pigs fed ad libitum, AL group) had free access to feed, while the rest were fed following a disorderly pattern (DIS group), in which animals had alternating periods of free access to feed and periods of no feeding, when food was removed from the feeder. The periods of free access to feed (two daily periods of 2-h duration) were randomly assigned, and varied from day to day. Total feed supplied per day was identical in both groups, and exceeded the minimal amount required for animals of these ages. Pen feed intake, individual body weights and the main positive pig APP pig major acute phase protein (Pig-MAP), haptoglobin, serum amyloid A (SAA), C-reactive protein (CRP), and the negative APP apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I) and transtherytin were determined every 2 weeks during the period 76 to 116 days of age. Animals fed ad libitum had better average daily gain (ADG) than DIS animals in the whole experimental period (P < 0.01) but the differences in ADG were only produced in the two first experimental sub-periods (60 to 74 and 74 to 116 days of age), suggesting that the stress diminished when the animals get used to the DIS feeding. Interestingly differences in ADG between DIS and AL pigs were due to males, whereas no differences were observed between females. The same differences observed for ADG were found for APP. DIS males had higher Pig-MAP concentration than AL males at 74 and 116 days of age, lower ApoA-I concentration at 74 days of age and higher haptoglobin and CRP concentration at 116 days of age (P < 0.05). The results obtained in this trial show an inverse relationship between weight gain and APP levels, and suggest that APP may be biomarkers for the evaluation of distress and welfare in pigs.