ABSTRACT Two experiments were proposed to evaluate the addition of monensin for lambs fed diets containing a high level of mature ground flint corn. The experimental diets were as follows: no inclusion of monensin (M0) and inclusion of 8 (M8), 16 (M16) and 24 mg kg–1 of monensin (M24). In experiment 1, eight cannulated wethers were divided into a double 4 × 4 Latin square experimental design to evaluate nutrient digestibility, plasma parameters and rumen fermentation. The experiment lasted 112 days, divided into four periods of 28 days each. In experiment 2, ninety-two lambs were used in a randomized block design to evaluate the performance over 56 days. In experiment 1, doses of monensin had no effect on nutrient intake (p ≥ 0.07) and digestibility (p ≥ 0.09). There was a quadratic effect for acetate molar proportion (p = 0.01), acetate to propionate ratio (p = 0.04) and rumen pH (p < 0.01). However, there was no effect on the molar proportion of propionate and butyrate. The monensin decreased linearly the total SCFA concentration (p < 0.01). The inclusion of monensin increased glucose (p < 0.01) and decreased lactate concentration in plasma (p = 0.05). In experiment 2, monensin decreased dry matter intake (p = 0.04). However, there was a quadratic effect for average daily gain (p = 0.03) and feed efficiency (p < 0.01), with the greatest values observed for the M8 diet. Thus, the inclusion of 8 mg kg–1 of dry matter diet (DM) improves ruminal fermentation and plasma parameters, resulting in greater growth performance in lambs.