1. We measured fractional rates of protein synthesis, capacities for protein synthesis (i.e. RNA/protein ratio) and efficiencies of protein synthesis (i.e. protein-synthesis rate relative to RNA content) in fasted (24 or 48 h) or fasted/surgically stressed female adult rats. 2. Of the 15 tissues studied, fasting caused decreases in protein content in the liver, gastrointestinal tract, heart, spleen and tibia. There was no detectable decrease in the protein content of the skeletal muscles studied. 3. Fractional rates of synthesis were not uniformly decreased by fasting. Rates in striated muscles, uterus, liver, spleen and tibia were consistently decreased, but decreases in other tissues (lung, gastrointestinal tract, kidney or brain) were inconsistent or not detectable, suggesting that, in many tissues in the mature rat, protein synthesis was not especially sensitive to fasting. 4. In fasting, the decreases in fractional synthesis rate resulted from changes in efficiency (liver and tibia) or from changes in efficiency and capacity (heart, diaphragm, plantaris and gastrocnemius). In the soleus, the main change was a decrease in capacity. 5. Surgical stress increased fractional rates of protein synthesis in diaphragm (where there were increases in both efficiency and capacity) by about 50%, in liver by about 20%, in spleen by about 40%, and possibly also in the heart. In liver and spleen, capacities were increased. In other tissues (including the skeletal muscles), the fractional rates of protein synthesis were unaffected by surgical stress.

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