Pre-weaning mortality represents a major economic loss and welfare concern for the global pork industry. Caffeine administration prior to, or after, parturition positively affects metabolic parameters associated with survival in newborn animals. However, its effects on piglet viability and survival when administered within the first 24 h of life have not been evaluated. This study determined the effect of caffeine treatment during the 24 h postpartum period on piglet viability, growth and survival. Piglets received 30 or 0 mg of caffeine orally at birth or 8 to 12 h following birth and again at 24 h. Vitality, meconium staining and blood lactate were assessed at birth. Time to first reach the udder and suckle was recorded. Body weight and rectal temperature were measured at 10 min, 24 and 72 h after birth. A blood sample for analysis of serum immunoglobulin G was collected at 24 h, and BW and survival were monitored to 20 days of age. Caffeine had no effect on body temperature, blood glucose, serum immunoglobulin G concentration or weight (P > 0.05). However, when caffeine was administered at birth, it significantly increased 24 h mortality in piglets (P < 0.05). Piglet mortality between birth and weaning also tended to be higher for piglets receiving caffeine at birth (P = 0.063). These data demonstrate that caffeine administration to piglets at birth, but not 8 to 12 h after birth, impaired piglet survival. Further research into caffeine dosage and timing postpartum is required to establish its efficacy.