The disposal of a mixed meal was examined in 11 male subjects by multiple (splanchnic and femoral) catheterization combined with double-isotope technique (intravenous [2-3H]glucose plus oral U-[14C]starch). Glucose kinetics and organ substrate balance were measured basally and for 5 h after eating pizza (600 kcal) containing carbohydrates 75 g as starch, proteins 37 g, and lipids 17 g. The portal appearance of ingested carbohydrate was maximal (1.0 mmol/min) between 30 and 60 min after the meal and gradually declined thereafter, but was still incomplete at 300 min (0.46+/-0.08 mmol/min). The total amount of glucose absorbed by the gut over the 5 h of the study was 247+/-26 mmol (45+/-6 g), corresponding to 60+/-6% of the ingested starch. Net splanchnic glucose balance (-6.7+/-0.5 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1), basal) rose by 250-300% between 30 and 60 min and then returned to baseline. Hepatic glucose production (HGP) was suppressed slightly and only tardily in response to meal ingestion (approximately 30% between 120 and 300 min). Splanchnic glucose uptake (3.7+/-0.6 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1), basal) peaked to 9.8+/-2.0 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1) (P<0.001) at 120 min and then returned slowly to baseline. Leg glucose uptake (34+/-5 micromol x leg(-1) x min(-1), basal) rose to 151+/-29 micromol x leg(-1) x min(-1) at 30 min (P<0.001) and remained above baseline until the end of the study, despite no increase in leg blood flow. The total amount of glucose taken up by the splanchnic area and total muscle mass was 161+/-16 mmol (29+/-3 g) and 128 mmol (23 g), respectively, which represent 39 and 30% of the ingested starch. Arterial blood lactate increased by 30% after meal ingestion. Net splanchnic lactate balance switched from a basal net uptake (3.2+/-0.6 micromol kg(-1) x min(-1) to a net output between 60 and 120 min and tended to zero thereafter. Leg lactate release (25+/-11 micromol x leg(-1) x min(-1), basal) drastically decreased postprandially. Arterial concentration of both branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and non-branched-chain amino acids (N-BCAA) increased significantly after meal ingestion (P<0.001). The splanchnic area switched from a basal net amino acid uptake (31+/-16 and 92+/-48 micromol/min for BCAA and N-BCAA, respectively) to a net amino acid release postprandially. The net splanchnic amino acid release over 5 h was 11.3+/-4.2 mmol for BCAA and 37.8+/-9.7 mmol for N-BCAA. Basally, the net leg balance of BCAA was neutral (-3+/-5 micromol x leg(-1) x min(-1)), whereas that of N-BCAA indicated a net release (54+/-14 micromol x leg(-1) x min(-1)). After meal ingestion, there was a net leg uptake of BCAA (20+/-6 micromol x leg(-1) x min(-1)), whereas leg release of N-BCAA decreased by 50%. It is concluded that in human subjects, 1) the absorption of a natural mixed meal is still incomplete at 5 h after ingestion; 2) HGP is only marginally and tardily inhibited; 3) splanchnic and peripheral tissues contribute to the disposal of meal carbohydrate to approximately the same extent; 4) the splanchnic area transfers >30% of the ingested proteins to the systemic circulation; and 5) after meal ingestion, skeletal muscle takes up BCAA to replenish muscle protein stores.