1. Rates of protein synthesis were measured, in vivo, in lung, liver, heart and skeletal muscle of young male rats. Groups of rats were exposed for 1 h duration to one of the following anaesthetic regimens: 1.4% halothane, 2.2% halothane, 1.4% halothane in 66% nitrous oxide, intravenous pentobarbitone (20 mg/kg) and intravenous midazolam (18 mg/kg) combined with fentanyl (2 μg/kg). Fractional rates of protein synthesis were determined by injecting [3H]phenylalanine (150 μmol/100 g body weight)
2. Liver protein synthesis was depressed significantly by all regimens, except midazolam/fentanyl, by up to 37.7% of control values. Lung protein synthesis was significantly reduced by all the anaesthetic agents by up to 30% of control rates
3. The effects of the anaesthetic agents on skeletal muscle and heart were small and not statistically significant
4. There was no evidence of ventilatory depression as manifested by changes in arterial blood gas partial pressures of CO2 and O2, except in the group treated with 2.2% halothane.