Mammalian neonates undergo rapid transitions from a sterile uterine environment with a continuous intravenous supply of nutrients to a microbe-rich environment with intermittent ingesting of colostrum/milk via the gut. Currently, little is known about the colostrum-induced alterations of intestinal mucosal proteins in piglets with intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR). In this study, we sought to investigate the innate differences and effects of colostrum on alterations in small-intestinal proteomes of IUGR piglets. Two IUGR (approximately 0·9 kg) and two normal-birth weight (NBW; approximately 1·3 kg) piglets were obtained from each of six sows at birth. One half (n 12; 6 IUGR v. 6 NBW) of the selected newborn piglets were killed to obtain jejunum samples, and the other half (n 12; 6 IUGR v. 6 NBW) of the newborn piglets were allowed to suckle colostrum from their own mothers for 24 h before jejunum sample collection. On the basis of proteomic analysis, we identified thirty-one differentially expressed proteins in the jejunal mucosa between IUGR and normal neonates before or after colostrum consumption. The intestinal proteins altered by colostrum feeding play important roles in the following: (1) increasing intestinal integrity, transport of nutrients, energy metabolism, protein synthesis, immune response and, therefore, cell proliferation; and (2) decreasing oxidative stress, and therefore cell apoptosis, in IUGR neonates. However, colostrum only partially ameliorated the inferior status of the jejunal mucosa in IUGR neonates. These findings provide the first evidence in intestinal protein alterations of IUGR neonates in response to colostrum ingestion, and thus render new insights into the mechanisms responsible for impaired growth in IUGR neonates and into new nutritional intervention strategies.