The monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) has been demonstrated to be involved in the transfer of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and/or their intraepithelial metabolites from the rumen to the blood. As MCT1 plays a role in SCFA transfer, it is assumed that SCFA are the main substrates influencing its expression. However, there are hints that MCT1 may also be expressed during the early life of the animal when SCFA are not released in the forestomach. To figure out whether MCT1 expression in the forestomach is influenced independently of SCFA during that period, we studied post-natal MCT1 expression immunohistochemically in the epithelia of omasum, atrium ruminis, saccus dorsalis ruminis, saccus ventralis ruminis and reticulum of calves born preterm and at term. The calves were nourished by colostrum or by milk-based formula diet. MCT1 could be found in all the forestomach compartments tested, even in preterm calves. The protein was mainly oriented to the luminal side in the immature epithelium 24 h after birth. Orientation to the blood side of the cells developed during the first 4 days after birth. In the rumen epithelia (but not in the other forestomach compartments tested), orientation of MCT1 to the blood side of the cells was paralleled by an increase in the overall expression rate during the first 4 days after birth. As lactate levels were very high directly after birth, a lactate-dependent substrate induction may have been the underlying mechanism. However, non-specific changes due to general differential processes might also be the cause. Both early upregulation of MCT1 and high blood lactate levels may provide the epithelia with lactate as energy source.