1. The effects of short-term starvation and refeeding on the free amino acid concentrations of the intestinal mucosa were characterized in male subjects (n = 6), using endoscopically obtained biopsy specimens from the duodenum and from all four segments of the colon.
2. The alterations in the amino acid concentrations in response to short-term starvation were overall uniform in both duodenal and colonic mucosa as well as in plasma. Most amino acids decreased, whereas branched-chain amino acids increased.
3. In the colon, glutamic acid and glutamine decreased during the starvation period, whereas they remained unaltered in the duodenum. This was the major difference in response to short-term starvation between the amino acid concentrations in the intestinal mucosa of the duodenum and colon.
4. Refeeding for 3 days normalized the amino acid concentrations except for glutamic acid, asparagine and histidine, which remained low in the colon, and threonine, which showed an overshoot in both parts of the intestine.
5. The changes in mucosal amino acid concentrations seen in response to starvation and refeeding were uniform in the four segments of the colon. This suggests that sampling from the rectum/sigmoid colon will give representative values for the free amino acid concentrations of the entire large intestine.