Arginine activity in broiler diets can be supplied by L-arginine (Arg), guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) and L-citrulline (Cit), all of which are commercially available. This study was conducted to assess the effects of Arg source and level on broiler performance, nutrient digestibility and carcass parameters. Day-old Ross 308 cockerels (n = 768) were assigned to one of eight dietary treatments using a completely randomized design: normal protein (NP), low protein deficient in Arg (LP) and LP with two levels of either Arg (0.238% and 0.476%), GAA (0.309% and 0.618%) or Cit (0.238 and 0.476%). The LP was 5 percentage points lower in protein level than the NP. Wheat, sorghum, soya bean meal, canola meal, and meat and bone meal-based diets were fed over three feeding phases to 6 replicate floor pens with 16 birds each. Compared to NP, birds fed LP had reduced feed intake (FI, p < 0.001), reduced body weight gain (BWG, p < 0.001) and increased feed conversion ratio (FCR, p < 0.001) from day 0 to day 35. Additions of Arg or Cit to the LP at both levels resulted in increased BWG and reduced FCR (p < 0.05). Birds fed LP with GAA added had lower FCR (p < 0.05) but not higher BWG (p > 0.05) compared with the LP observed from day 0 to day 35. Supplementation of Arg, Cit and the low level of GAA to LP resulted in increased carcass yield, bone length, diameter and ash (p < 0.05) but did not increase ileal energy or nitrogen digestibility (p > 0.05). The findings indicate that Cit is an efficacious source of Arg activity in Arg-deficient diets. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH.