Compensatory growth (CG), an accelerated growth phenomenon which occurs following a period of dietary restriction is exploited worldwide in animal production systems as a method to lower feed costs. However the molecular mechanisms regulated CG expression remain to be elucidated fully. This study aimed to uncover the underlying biology regulating CG in cattle, through an examination of skeletal muscle transcriptional profiles utilising next generation mRNA sequencing technology. Twenty Holstein Friesian bulls were fed either a restricted diet for 125 days, with a target growth rate of 0.6 kg/day (Period 1), following which they were allowed feed ad libitum for a further 55 days (Period 2) or fed ad libitum for the entirety of the trial. M. longissimus dorsi biopsies were harvested from all bulls on days 120 and 15 of periods 1 and 2 respectively and RNAseq analysis was performed. During re-alimentation in Period 2, previously restricted animals displayed CG, growing at 1.8 times the rate of the ad libitum control animals. Compensating animals were also more feed efficient during re-alimentation and compensated for 48% of their previous dietary restriction. 1,430 and 940 genes were identified as significantly differentially expressed (Benjamini Hochberg adjusted P < 0.1) in periods 1 and 2 respectively. Additionally, 2,237 genes were differentially expressed in animals undergoing CG relative to dietary restriction. Dietary restriction in Period 1 was associated with altered expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism and energy production. CG expression in Period 2 occurred in association with greater expression of genes involved in cellular function and organisation. This study highlights some of the molecular mechanisms regulating CG in cattle. Differentially expressed genes identified are potential candidate genes for the identification of biomarkers for CG and feed efficiency, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes.