1. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of an enzyme cocktail composed of xylanase, amylase and protease on the performance and nutrient utilisation of broiler starters fed on a maize-based diet. A maize/soy-based control diet was formulated to be marginal in apparent metabolisable energy (AME) and amino acids and this diet was fed without or with two concentrations (250 and 500 g/tonne) of the exogenous enzyme cocktail. 2. Growth performance was measured over a 21-d period after which ileal contents were collected for measurement of digestible energy, nitrogen and dry matter. Excreta were collected from d 17 to 20 post-hatch and used to determine the AME, and retention of nitrogen and dry matter. 3. Supplementation of the control diet with 250 and 500 g/tonne of the enzyme cocktail resulted in enhanced performance of the chicks (1.4 and 8.3%, respectively, for weight gain and 1.2 and 2.2%, respectively, for feed per gain), but the improvements were significant (P < 0.05) only at 500 g/tonne. 4. Addition of both 250 and 500 g/tonne improved AME, nitrogen-corrected AME and dry matter retention compared with the control though the improvements were greater with the higher dose. These effects were also reflected in the apparent ileal digestibility coefficients of dry matter, nitrogen and energy, with 500 g/tonne of the enzyme cocktail improving ileal digestible energy by 3.4%. 5. These results demonstrate that a cocktail of exogenous enzymes containing xylanase, amylase and protease is effective in improving the performance of broiler chicks fed on a maize/soybean-meal-based diet. However, these benefits may be dose-dependent and so an economic analysis involving ingredient and enzyme pricing and the relative performance and digestibility enhancements could allow the end user to select the most economical dose to maximise return on investment.