1. Insulin was infused into young male rats in the postabsorptive state. Rates of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle were determined during the final 10 min of infusion from the incorporation of label into protein after intravenous injection of a massive dose of [3H]phenylalanine. Rates of synthesis were not altered during the first 10 min of insulin infusion, but were increased significantly between 10 and 60 min. 2. Rats were infused with different amounts of insulin for 30 min. When concentrations were increased from 10 to 40 microunits/ml of plasma there was no change in muscle protein synthesis, but concentrations higher than 70 microunits/ml caused a significant stimulation. Concentrations below 10 microunits/ml, obtained by infusion of anti-insulin serum, did not depress synthesis below that found in the postabsorptive rat. 3. Infusion of glucose for 30 or 60 min led to an increase in plasma insulin to 40 microunits/ml, but this also failed to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. 4. Rates of synthesis in postabsorptive rats, even when stimulated maximally by insulin, were not so high as those in fed rats or in postabsorptive rats refed for 60 min. However, in fed and refed rats insulin concentrations were below that required to stimulate synthesis in postabsorptive animals. Despite this, infusion of large amounts of insulin into fed rats did not increase synthesis further. 5. The sensitivity of plasma glucose to insulin infusion was different from that of protein synthesis. A decrease in glucose concentration preceded the increase in synthesis and occurred at lower insulin concentrations. 6. It is concluded that changes in circulating insulin may have been partly responsible for the increase in muscle protein synthesis brought about by feeding, but that other factors must also play a part.

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