The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of a permanent heat exposure during 21 days on pig performance, nutrient digestibility, physiological response and key enzyme of skeletal muscle energy metabolism. Twenty-four male finishing pigs (crossbreed castrates, 79.0 ± 1.50 kg body weight) were allocated to three groups (n = 8): (1) Control (ambient temperature (AT) 22°C, ad libitum feeding), (2) Group HE (AT 30°C, ad libitum feeding) and (3) Group PF (AT 22°C, pair-fed to Group HE). The permanent heat exposure decreased feed intake (p < 0.01), daily body weight gain (p < 0.05) and the digestibility of gross energy, dry matter, crude protein and ash (p < 0.05); rectal temperature and respiration rate were significantly increased (p < 0.01). The levels of plasma cortisol, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase were also significantly increased in Group HE (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the heat exposure changed intracellular energy metabolism, where the AMP-activated protein kinase was activated (p = 0.02). This was combined with changes in parameters of glycolysis such as an accumulation of lactic acid (p = 0.02) and a drop of pH24 h (p = 0.02), an increase of hexokinase and pyruvate kinase activity (p < 0.01) and, finally, the maturation process of post mortem muscle was influenced. Due to pair-feeding it was possible to evaluate the effects of heat exposure, which were not dependent on reduced feed intake. Such effects were, e.g., reduced nutrient digestibility and changed activities of several enzymes in muscle and blood serum.