Pigs are increasingly used in medical research as transgenic laboratory animals; however, little knowledge is presently available concerning their welfare assessment. The aim of the present study was to investigate some welfare-related parameters of transgenic pigs intended for xenotrasplantation (human decay-accelerating factor (hDAF)) when compared with their conventional (i.e. not transgenic) close relatives (full sibs and half sibs). A total of 14 Large White female transgenic pigs and 10 female non-transgenic (conventional) pigs from four litters were used. All pigs were from the same conventional boar, donor of the semen treated for sperm-mediated gene transfer. During the experiment, BW ranged from 50 to about 80 kg and pigs were weighed at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. Animals were subjected to a set of behavioural tests: a human approach test (HAT), a novel object test (NOT) and an open-door test (ODT). Food preferences were tested through the offer of different foods (banana, apple, carrot, cracker and lemon). During a 4-day period, pigs were diurnally videotaped to study the prevalence of the different behaviours and social interactions (aggressive and non-aggressive interactions). At the end of the trial, cortisol level had been assessed on bristles. No significant differences (P>0.05) were observed between hDAF transgenic and conventional pigs with respect to growth traits, reactivity towards unexpected situations (HAT, NOT, ODT), food preferences, main behavioural traits, social interactions and hair cortisol.