Cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion molecules play an important role in morphogenesis, cell signaling and are involved in cell proliferation, cell death, cell polarization and differentiation. In the present study, we investigated N-CAM and pan-cadherin expression in small intestine of intrauterine growth-retarded (IUGR) newborn rats after maternal protein malnutrition during pregnancy. N-CAM and pancadherin immunostaining was increased in small intestine of IUGR newborn rats. This increase was evident in epithelial cells on villi, lamina propria, submucosa, muscularis mucosa and muscularis externa. The increase in numbers of villous N-CAM-positive and pan-cadherin-positive epithelial cells was statistically significant (p < 0.001). In most areas, crypts did not show any immunopositive epithelial cells or showed decreased expression of the adhesion molecules. Although the villous height was decreased in IUGR rats, the decrease was statistically not significant. Expression and recruitment of N-CAM and pan-cadherin in small intestine of newborn IUGR rats may indicate a direct or indirect involvement of adhesion mechanisms or signaling in the growth retardation process.