Intra-uterine growth retardation in piglets is associated to neonatal losses and a greater susceptibility to fat deposition in the long term. Dietary l-arginine supplementation to gilts during early gestation has been proposed as a way to enhance fetal survival. This study aims to investigate the effects of variation in fetal growth within litters and dietary l-arginine treatment during early gestation in pregnant sows on expression levels of several genes involved in early adipose tissue development and lipid deposition in the fetuses. At day 75 of pregnancy, sows fed a standard gestation diet throughout pregnancy and sows fed 26g L-arginine daily from days 14 to 28 of gestation in supplement to the standard diet were sacrificed. Six pairs of littermates in each dietary group with the smallest or the heaviest fetal weights within each litter were collected (total: 24 fetuses). Expression levels of DLK1/PREF1 and FZD7 were significantly greater in subcutaneous backfat of the smallest fetuses. Conversely, transcriptional adipogenic regulators PPARG, SREBP1, and CEBPA, and genes involved in terminal adipocytic differentiation LPL, ME1, and FABP4 were less expressed in those piglets. Fetal weight has no effect on expression levels of genes involved in cell cycle progression and DNA content in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Maternal dietary L-arginine treatment did not affect subcutaneous adipose tissue features in 75-day old fetuses. The gene expression changes observed in the smallest fetuses are likely associated to a lower body fat content at birth, and could predispose to catch-up fat growth during the postnatal period.