Individual juvenile three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus and European minnow Phoxinus phoxinus, from sympatric populations, were subjected to four cycles of 1 week of food deprivation and 2 weeks of ad libitum feeding. Mean specific growth rate during the weeks of deprivation was negative and did not differ between species. The three-spined stickleback showed sufficient growth compensation to recover to the growth trajectory shown by control fish daily fed ad libitum. The compensation was generated by hyperphagia during the re-feeding periods, and in the last two periods of re-feeding, the gross growth efficiencies of deprived three-spined sticklebacks were greater than in control fish. The expression of the compensatory changes in growth and food consumption became clearer over the successive periods of re-feeding. The European minnow developed only a weak compensatory growth response and the mass trajectory of the deprived fish deviated more and more from the control trajectory. During re-feeding periods, there were no significant differences in food consumption or gross growth efficiency between control and deprived European minnows. The differences between the two species are discussed in terms of the possible costs of compensatory growth, the control of growth and differences in feeding biology.