The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of dietary starch content and monensin (MON) on metabolism of dairy cows during early lactation. Before parturition, primiparous (n = 21) and multiparous (n = 49) Holstein cows were fed a common controlled-energy close-up diet with a daily topdress of either 0 or 400 mg/d monensin. From d 1 to 21 postpartum, cows were fed a high-starch (HS; 26.2% starch, 34.3% neutral detergent fiber, 22.7% acid detergent fiber, 15.5% crude protein) or low-starch (LS; 21.5% starch, 36.9% neutral detergent fiber, 25.2% acid detergent fiber, 15.4% crude protein) total mixed ration with a daily topdress of either 0 mg/d monensin (CON) or 450 mg/d monensin (MON), continuing with prepartum topdress assignment. From d 22 through 63 postpartum, all cows were fed HS and continued with the assigned topdress treatment until d 63. Cows fed HS had higher plasma glucose and insulin and lower nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) than cows fed LS during d 1 to 21 postpartum. Cows fed LS had elevated early-lactation β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) compared with cows fed HS. Cows fed HS had greater insulin resistance and increased plasma haptoglobin in the early lactation period. There was no effect of MON on postpartum plasma NEFA. Cows fed MON had higher plasma glucose compared with CON cows, which was driven by a MON × parity interaction in which primiparous cows fed MON had greater plasma glucose concentrations than cows fed CON. Cows fed MON had lower plasma BHBA compared with CON, which was contributed to by a MON × parity interaction in which primiparous cows fed MON had lower BHBA concentrations than CON. Starch treatment had no effect on overall liver triglyceride content. Primiparous cows fed MON had increased liver triglyceride content compared with CON primiparous cows, and multiparous cows fed MON had decreased liver triglyceride content compared with CON cows. Multiparous cows fed LS with MON had higher liver glycogen content than multiparous cows fed the LS without MON, with no effect of MON treatment for multiparous cows fed HS. There was no effect of starch or MON treatment on liver capacity to oxidize propionate to CO2, and effects of starch on gluconeogenesis were not significant. Cows fed MON tended to have greater capacity to convert propionate to glucose than CON. Supplementation with MON increased the ratio of glucose to CO2, which indicated that cows fed MON had a greater propensity to convert propionate to glucose. Overall, cows fed more propiogenic diets in early lactation (high starch or monensin) exhibited improved energy metabolism during early lactation.