1. Nutritional factors affecting the urinary excretion of acid-soluble peptides (ASP) were studied in rats. The ratio, total urinary nitrogen: ASP-form leucine + valine was lowest in the rats fed on a protein-free diet and increased as retained N: absorbed N decreased. The ratio was not affected by dietary protein level when the level was below the National Research Council (1978) recommended requirement, but increased greatly when it exceeded the recommended requirement.
2. The excretion of ASP-form leucine + valine per kg body-weight was significantly lower in the protein- deficient rats than in those fed on protein-adequate diets. This variable decreased during the stage of rapid growth, but did not change as markedly after the onset of adolescence. It increased again when the rats became older. The patterns of change in the rate of excretion of ASP-form amino acids during growth and that of Nr-methylhistidine were different.
3. When labelled amino acids were injected into rats, the largest amount of the ASP-form label was excreted on the 1st day of injection. From the 2nd day the excretion of ASP-form label decreased exponentially.
4. The findings suggest that the rate of urinary excretion of ASP-form amino acids can be employed as an index of protein metabolism, particularly as a simple index of the assessment of the status of protein nutrition.