Puberty attainment in dairy heifers has been widely studied from a hormonal point of view, but few studies have focussed on puberty–blood profile relationships during growth. We led experiments to determine the effects of feeding treatments on growth parameters, age at puberty and plasma biochemical profiles, and the relationships between age at puberty and metabolic profiles at 6, 9, 12 and 15 months (mo) of age. Blood samples were collected from 67 Holstein heifers, born between September 2011 and February 2012, every 10 days from 5.5 mo of age until heifers were considered pubertal (plasma progesterone concentration greater than 1.0 ng/ml) or oestrus synchronisation (November 2012; 11 to 15 mo of age). Heifers born before 30 November were fed either a standard diet (SD, n=27) or an intensive-plane diet (ID1, n=27) from 0 to 6 mo of age. This strategy aimed to reach 190 to 200 kg (SD) or 220 to 230 kg (ID1) BW at 6 mo of age. All heifers born after 1 December received an intensive-plane diet (ID2, n=13) from birth until oestrus synchronisation, in order to reach a similar BW at first insemination as heifers born before 1 December. Only 56 heifers reached puberty before oestrus synchronisation, at an average age of 10.3±2.2 mo (6.2 to 14.4 mo) and a BW of 296±40 kg (224 to 369 kg). There was no difference among the three feeding treatments until 6 mo, but at 9, 12 and 15 mo of age, ID2 (n=11) heifers weighed 37, 52 and 30 kg more than SD (n=22) and ID1 (n=23) heifers (P<0.001), respectively. Glucose, non-esterified fatty acids, albumin, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron decreased with age, whereas β-hydroxybutyric acid, total cholesterol, creatinine, the creatinine : albumin ratio, alanine aminotransferase and chloride increased. The feeding treatment significantly affected creatinine, the creatinine : albumin ratio, and phosphorus and sodium levels, which were higher for ID2 heifers compared with SD and ID1. A logistic regression based on plasma metabolites at 6 mo of age to explain puberty attainment before or at 12 mo of age showed a positive relationship with plasma cholesterol (odds ratio=9.05). In conclusion, the feeding treatment had minor consequences on plasma metabolites, but it did affect growth performance.