1. The rate of protein synthesis in quadriceps muscle of healthy subjects estimated from the incorporation of l-[1-13C]leucine given by continuous infusion was 1.1%/day. The estimate of protein synthesis from the incorporation of a flooding amount of labelled leucine was 1.8%/day (sd 0.65). The possibility that the higher rate obtained with the flooding technique arose from stimulation of protein synthesis by the large amount of leucine is unlikely.
2. The same rate of protein synthesis (1.7%/day, sd 0.3) was obtained with a flooding amount (0.05 g/kg) of a different amino acid, l-[1-13C]phenylalanine, as was obtained with leucine.
3. Incorporation of l-[1-13C]phenylalanine was not affected by simultaneous injection of leucine (1.7%/day, sd 0.7) or valine (1.6%/day, sd 0.4).
4. Protein synthesis, assessed in a completely different way from the proportion of polyribosomes isolated from the skeletal muscle, was unaltered by the injection of 0.05 g of l-leucine/kg (44.6%, sd 8.5 versus 43.8%, sd 7.7).
5. Good agreement in estimates of protein synthesis was observed in subjects in whom both legs were measured with both l-[1-13C]leucine (mean difference 0.16%/day) and l-[1-13C]phenylalanine (mean difference 0.2%/day).