The long-term effect of alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) given for 21-24 days post-partum, on the skeleton of commercial pigs, was investigated. In experiment A, 12 pigs were given AKG [0.1 g/kg of body weight (b.w.) per day per os], while 12 controls were administered vehicle. At day 169, the left and right femur, humerus and sixth ribs were analysed for mechanical and geometrical properties and quantitative computed tomography. In experiment B, 32 piglets were divided equally into an AKG group (0.3 g/kg of b.w. per day) or a control group. Blood, taken at days 24 and 53 was analysed for plasma 17 beta-oestradiol. The main bone effect of AKG was to increase bone length in the sixth rib (7.3%, p < 0.01), ultimate strength (23%, p < 0.05), Young s modulus (52%, p < 0.001) and maximum elastic strength (31%, p = 0.056) compared with controls. In both experiments, AKG preferentially increased the growth of female piglets, whilst for male piglets AKG had the opposite effect. In addition, AKG elevated plasma 17 beta-oestradiol levels compared to those of controls at the end of the period of treatment (20%, p = 0.002). It is concluded that AKG has long-term effects on rib properties when given early in postnatal life whilst it elevates plasma 17 beta-oestradiol levels only so long as it is being administered.