To overcome negative energy balance during the peripartal period of sows, an ad libitum feeding strategy (ADLIB) as alternative for commonly used restricted feeding (STANDARD, on average 3kg feed/day) was evaluated. Plasma metabolites and thyroid hormones, change of back fat thickness (BF), reproductive traits, and piglet performance were monitored. Voluntary feed intake of ADLIB sows declined at farrowing but was still more than twice the amount of what was offered to STANDARD sows. Consequently, ADLIB sows lost less BF than STANDARD sows (P=0.041). Additionally, BF change was affected by body condition. LEAN sows (BF<18mm on d 105 of gestation) lost less BF than MODERATE sows (18mm≤BF≤22mm) which lost less BF than FAT sows (BF>22mm) (P<0.001). Except for a decreased percentage of stillborn piglets for MODERATE sows (P=0.044), reproduction results were not affected. Piglet weaning weight of ADLIB-FAT and STANDARD-MODERATE sows was reduced in comparison with that of ADLIB-LEAN sows (P=0.005). Regardless of body condition, all metabolites and thyroid hormones measured showed a time dependent profile (P<0.001). On d 112 of gestation increased concentrations of creatinine (P=0.004), non-esterified fatty acids (P=0.039), and serum crosslaps (P=0.016) for STANDARD sows were observed. Triglycerides were increased for FAT sows (P<0.001), and decreased faster over time for ADLIB (P=0.013) and for FAT (P=0.012). Although ad libitum feeding during the peripartal period only resulted in less mobilization of muscle, fat, and bone reserves on d 112 of gestation, results of BF change and piglet weaning weight indicated that ad libitum feeding is beneficial for sow performance provided that BF is below 22mm.