The present study aimed to study the effects of food deprivation and subsequent postprandial changes in plasma somatotrophic and thyrotrophic hormone levels and focused on the inter-relationships between these hormonal axes and representative metabolites of the intermediary metabolism of meal-fed broiler chickens. Male broiler chickens (2 weeks old) were fed a meal of 40–45 g/bird per d for two consecutive weeks (food-restricted (FR) treatment). The daily allowance was consumed in about 30 min. At 4 weeks of age, FR chickens were killed at several time intervals (ten per sampling time) in relation to the daily food allowance: before feeding (about 23·5 h of food deprivation), and at 10, 20, 30 (end of feeding), 40, 50, 60, 90, 120 and 200 min after initiation of feeding. Birds fed ad libitum served as controls (ad-libitum (AL) treatment). Liver tissue was collected for deiodinase type I and type III activity measurements and blood samples for analysis of growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, thyroxine (T4), 3,3′,5-triiodothyronine (T3), glucose, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), uric acid, triacylglycerol (TG) and lactate levels. Food deprivation caused a shift from lipogenesis to lipolysis and increased fatty acid turnover, a reduction in protein anabolism and reduced metabolic rate. Food intake was followed immediately by a pronounced increase in metabolic rate, initially mainly based on anaerobic mechanisms. Refeeding gradually reversed the fasting-induced alterations in plasma hormone and metabolite levels, but the time course of changes differed between metabolites, which clearly preceded those of the hormones investigated. The order of responsiveness after food provision were glucose>uric acid≥NEFA>lactate>TG for the plasma metabolites and GH>T3>T4>IGF–I for hormones. Based on these different postprandial time courses, several functional relationships are proposed. Glucose is believed to be the primary trigger for the normalisation of the effects of fasting on these plasma variables by restoring hepatic GH receptor capacity, as well as decreasing deiodinase type III activity.