Strong epidemiological evidence suggests that slow prenatal or postnatal growth is associated with an increased risk of CVD and other metabolic diseases. However, little is known whether early growth affects postprandial metabolism and, especially, the appetite regulatory hormone system. Therefore, we investigated the impact of early growth on postprandial appetite regulatory hormone responses to two high-protein and two high-fat content meals. Healthy, 65–75-year-old volunteers from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study were recruited; twelve with a slow increase in BMI during the first year of life (SGI group) and twelve controls. Subjects ate a test meal (whey meal, casein meal, SFA meal and PUFA meal) once in a random order. Plasma glucose, insulin, TAG, NEFA, ghrelin, peptide tyrosine-tyrosine (PYY), glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, glucagon-like peptide-1 and a satiety profile were measured in the fasting state and for 4 h after each test meal. Compared with the controls, the SGI group had about 1·5-fold higher insulin responses after the whey meal (P= 0·037), casein meal (P= 0·023) and PUFA meal (P= 0·002). TAG responses were 34–69 % higher for the SGI group, but only the PUFA-meal responses differed significantly between the groups. The PYY response of the SGI group was 44 % higher after the whey meal (P= 0·046) and 115 % higher after the casein meal (P= 0·025) compared with the controls. No other statistically significant differences were seen between the groups. In conclusion, early growth may have a role in programming appetite regulatory hormone secretion in later life. Slow early growth is also associated with higher postprandial insulin and TAG responses but not with incretin levels.