1. After decreasing muscle ATP by a 2 min period of intense exercise, we have studied purine metabolism by using high-pressure liquid chromatography.
2. A major increase in hypoxanthine concentration in plasma and urine was found with increases in xanthine and, in plasma, inosine. Erythrocyte hypoxanthine rose with the level in plasma, but there was no corresponding rise in IMP, the first intracellular metabolite of hypoxanthine. No rises in uridine or urate were found in plasma.
3. Plasma adenosine did not rise and fall significantly after exercise, but a small rise and fall in adenine nucleotide concentrations in plasma was found.
4. Running, swimming and games, which tended to be at the weekend, were associated with a rise in hypoxanthine and xanthine excretion; exercise was probably the cause of the higher excretion during the day than at night. Such activities do not produce changes in concentrations of ATP in muscle, although turnover must rise.
5. The results are consistent with widespread purine exchange between tissues and a ‘circulating hypoxanthine pool’.