The effects of protein source and amino acid (AA) and AME levels in the diets of male broilers from 8 to 21 d of age on subsequent growth and blood and carcass traits were investigated in the current study. Fourteen Ross × Ross 708 male broiler chicks were randomly allocated to each of 80 floor pens arranged in a randomized complete block design. Each diet contained 1 of 2 dietary protein sources (high inclusion of distillers dried grains with solubles or high inclusion of meat and bone meal), 1 of 2 AA densities (moderate or 10% higher), and 1 of 2 AME densities (2,998 or 3,100 kcal/kg). Experimental diets were fed from 8 to 21 d of age, and common diets from 1 to 7 and 21 to 55 d of age. The higher AME density in high inclusion of meat and bone meal diets increased serum triglyceride and cholesterol levels on d 20. The dietary inclusion of high inclusion of distillers dried grains with solubles or lower levels of AA increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol on d 20. Feeding the high-AA-density diet decreased feed intake without affecting BW gain, which resulted in a lower feed conversion ratio (FCR). A high-AME-density diet lowered feed intake but increased BW gain, which resulted in a lower FCR from 8 to 21 d of age. Feed intake, BW gain, FCR from 21 to 54 d of age, and carcass weight on 42 and 55 d of age were not affected by treatments from 8 to 21 d of age. However, early dietary manipulation from 8 to 21 d of age affected fat and meat yield at 42 and 55 d of age. Moreover, a high-AME diet decreased feed cost per carcass weight gain from 8 to 55 d of age. In conclusion, high AA or AME densities during the grower phase, from d 8 to 21 of age, may improve growth during the grower feeding phase, but may also affect meat yield during the latter grow-out phases. Furthermore, high-AME diets from 8 to 21 d of age may save on feed costs for meat production.