The impact of two different feeding intensities during the first weeks of life of Holstein-Friesian calves on weight development as well as subsequent milk production and feed intake was assessed. During the first four weeks of life calves were fed either ad libitum ( AdL; N = 38) or restrictively (RES; N = 30). Feeding after the 4th week of life and housing throughout the experiment were similar in both groups The average milk energy intakes during the first four weeks were higher in AdL-calves compared to RES-calves (p < 0.01 each). The average starter intake did not differ between groups (p = 0.08). In AdL-calves the average daily gain was higher compared to RES calves during the first four weeks of life (p < 0.001), whereas age at first calving did not differ (p = 0.3). During the first lactation the AdL-animals gave more milk which was accompanied by a higher feed intake compared with the RES-animals (p < 0.05 each); no difference in the concentrations of milk protein and milk fat were determined. The results indicate that an increased feeding intensity during early life has positive long-term effects on the milk production potential in the first lactation.