The rapid gain in skeletal muscle mass in the neonate is associated with a marked elevation in skeletal muscle protein synthesis in response to feeding. The feeding-induced response decreases with development. To determine whether the response to feeding is regulated at the level of translation initiation, the expression, phosphorylation, and function of a number of eukaryotic initiation factors (eIF) were examined. Pigs at 7 and 26 days of age were either fasted overnight or fed porcine milk after an overnight fast. In muscle of 7-day-old pigs, the hyperphosphorylated form of the eIF4E repressor protein, 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), was undetectable in the fasting state but rose to 60% of total 4E-BP1 after feeding; eIF4E phosphorylation was unaffected by feeding status. The amount of eIF4E in the inactive 4E-BP1. eIF4E complex was reduced by 80%, and the amount of eIF4E in the active eIF4E. eIF4G complex was increased 14-fold in muscle of 7-day-old pigs after feeding. The amount of 70-kDa ribosomal protein S6 (p70(S6)) kinase in the hyperphosphorylated form rose 2.5-fold in muscle of 7-day-old pigs after feeding. Each of these feeding-induced responses was blunted in muscle of 26-day-old pigs. eIF2B activity in muscle was unaffected by feeding status but decreased with development. Feeding produced similar changes in eIF characteristics in liver and muscle; however, the developmental changes in liver were not as apparent as in skeletal muscle. Thus the results demonstrate that the developmental change in the acute stimulation of skeletal muscle protein synthesis by feeding is regulated by the availability of eIF4E for 48S ribosomal complex formation. The results further suggest that the overall developmental decline in skeletal muscle protein synthesis involves regulation by eIF2B.