To investigate the nature of compenstory growth in fish, an 8 week study at 28°C was performed on juvenile gibel carp Carassius auratus gibelio weighing 6·6 g. Fish were starved for 0 (control), 1 (S1) or 2 (S2) weeks and then re-fed to satiation for 5 weeks. Weekly changes in weight gain, feed intake and body composition were monitored during re-feeding. No significant difference was found in final body weight between the three groups, indicating complete compensation in the deprived fish. The deprived groups caught up in body weight with that of the control after 2 weeks of re-feeding. Body fat: lean body mass ratio was restored to the control level within 1 week of re-feeding. In the re-feeding period, weekly gains in body weight, protein, lipid, ash and energy in the S1 group were significantly higher than in the controls for 1 week. For the S2 group, weekly gains in body weight, lipid, ash and energy were higher than in the controls for 2 weeks, and gain in protein was higher than in the controls for 3 weeks, though gain in body energy became elevated again during the last 2 weeks of the experiment. Feed intake remained higher than the control level for 3 weeks in the S1 group and 4 weeks in the S2 group. Growth efficiency was not significantly different among the three groups in any of the weeks during re-feeding. Compensatory responses in growth and especially feed intake tended to last longer than the recovery of body composition.