1. The influence of a 24 h fast on the concentrations of free amino acids in the plasma, and upon the oxidation rates of methionine, isoleucine and threonine was studied (using early weaned, 4-week-old piglets which were receiving a semi-purified diet.
2. There was no change in the total concentration of the essential amino acids as a result of the 24 h fast: the concentration of the branched-chain amino acids increased, but the effect of this was offset by decreases in the concentrations of arginine, histidine, lysine, methionine and phenylalanine. There was a reduction in the concentration of the non-essential amino acids.
3. The piglets received infusions of L-[1-14C]methionine, L-[U-14C]isoleucine and L-[U-14C]threonine, and the recovery of the label in carbon dioxide was determined. Less than 5% of the activity from methionine was recovered in the CO2 from the fed piglets, whereas 12% was recovered from the fasted piglets. The corresponding values with threonine were 11 and 19% but there was no effect of fasting on the recovery of the label from isoleucine in CO2.
4. The initial dilution of a single dose of a labelled amino acid infused into the bloodstream depends on the plasma concentration of the amino acid. Nutritional regimens may effect the free amino acid concentration in the plasma. Thus comparisons based upon direct determination of activity recovered in CO2 from the labelled dose of an amino acid with animals on different nutritional regimens could be misleading, unless the differences in the concentrations of the amino acid in the plasma are considered.