The aim of these studies was to determine the effect of levels of dry matter (DM) and metabolisable energy (ME) intakes on clearance rate of progesterone (P4) in dairy cows. Thirty-two lactating Holstein-Friesian cows were selected for the study and were fed indoors in individual stalls for a period of 5 weeks. They were individually offered a diet of combinations of pasture, hay and pelleted cereal grain to achieve two different levels of DM and ME. In the first trial, 16 cows were allocated to two groups: (i) high DM (HDM), and (ii) low DM (LDM) intakes, while the amount of ME intake was constant. In the second trial, 16 cows were allocated to two groups: (i) high ME, and (ii) low ME intakes with similar amount of DM intake. A GnRH-agonist (deslorelin) was initially implanted in the ear of each cow to block endogenous P4 secretion. Then 3 weeks later, a CIDR device was inserted into the vagina of each cow and left in place for 11 days. Chromic oxide (Cr(2)O(3)) capsules were administered to allow daily faecal output (FO) to be estimated. Daily blood, faecal and milk samples were taken during the period of the experiment for P4 and faecal P4 metabolites analyses. Trial 1: The average milk yield was similar among cows in high and LDM intake groups (26.7 versus 25.0 l per day, P = 0.2). The average daily FO was 7.8 kg DM in the HDM and 5.7 in the LDM cows (P < 0.0001). Average daily DM intakes were 17.3 kg and 15.4 kg in the HDM and LDM groups, respectively (P < 0.0001). The average plasma P4 concentrations were similar between the two groups (1.56 versus 1.60 ng/ml, P = 0.7) but milk P4 concentrations were higher in LDM cows (4.6 versus 3.6 ng/ml, P = 0.02). The average daily excretion rate of P4 into the milk was higher in LDM cows (122.3 versus 88.5 microg, P = 0.002). The concentrations of faecal P4 metabolites (FP4M) were not influenced by the level of daily DM intake (2.85 versus 2.90 microg/g, P = 0.6). The average daily yields of FP4M were higher among cows in the HDM group (23.2 versus 16.3mg, P = 0.01). Trial 2: The average milk yield was 31.2l per day in HME cows compared to 25.0l per day in LME cows (P < 0.0001). The average daily FO was 7.8 kg DM in LME and 5.8 kg DM in HME cows (P < 0.0001), and the average DM content of faeces was higher in LME cows (15.8 versus 12.7%, P = 0.01). The average daily ME intake was 213MJ per day in HME group compared to 183MJ per day in LME group (P<0.0001). The average plasma and milk P4 concentrations were similar between the two groups (plasma P4 = 1.54 versus 1.56 ng/ml, P = 0.4; milk P4: 3.7 versus 3.6 ng/ml, P = 0.6). The average daily excretion rate of P4 into the milk was higher in HME cows (114 versus 88.5 microg, P = 0.03). Concentrations of FP4M were not influenced by the level of daily ME intake (2.5 versus 2.85 micro g/g, P = 0.08). However, daily yields of FP4M were greater in the LME group (23.2 versus 14.4 mg, P = 0.01). In conclusion, this study was unable to establish a relationship between the level of DM and ME in the diet with the excretion rates of FP4M metabolites and plasma P4 concentrations.