Pre-mating diets can influence piglet birth weight and within-litter birth weight variation and thereby piglet survival and development. The major objective of this study was to evaluate the litter characteristics of young sows whose pre-mating diets received different supplementation. The supplements included a top-dressing of 200 g, consisting of either wheat (CON) or wheat plus microfibrillated cellulose, L-carnitine or L-arginine at one of two supplementation levels (low and high) in late lactation and during the weaning-to-oestrus interval (WEI). The second objective was to investigate the role of body condition loss and IGF-1 concentration during the WEI for subsequent litter characteristics. In total, sows after their first (N = 41) and second (N = 15) lactation were used. One week before weaning, the sows were allocated to the seven treatments based on the number of piglets and BW loss from farrowing until 1 week before weaning. Pre-mating diets did not affect litter characteristics at subsequent farrowing. However, at subsequent farrowing, sows after their first lactation had a lower total number of piglets born per litter (18.3 v. 20.3), higher mean piglet birth weight (1 365 v. 1 253 g), lower CV of birth weight (20.0 v. 26.1%) and lower percentage of piglets < 1 000 g (11.5 v. 24.4%) than sows after their second lactation. Litter weight at second parturition was positively related to IGF-1 during the WEI after first lactation (P < 0.04). Within parity, piglet mean birth weight was positively related to IGF-1 at oestrus (P < 0.02). Surprisingly, within parity, a higher relative loin muscle depth loss during previous lactation was related to lower CV and SD of birth weight (P < 0.05, for both). In conclusion, pre-mating diets did not affect litter characteristics at subsequent birth. However, a higher IGF-1 concentration during the WEI was positively associated with subsequent litter weight and piglet mean birth weight. Further studies should elucidate the role of IGF-1 during the WEI for subsequent litter characteristics and dietary interventions to stimulate IGF-1.