Plasma albumin is well known to decrease in response to inflammation. The rate of albumin synthesis from both liver and plasma was measured in vivo by use of a large dose of L-[(2)H(3)-(14)C]valine in rats injected intravenously with live Escherichia coli and in pair-fed control rats during the acute-phase period (2 days postinfection). The plasma albumin concentration was reduced by 50% in infected rats compared with pair-fed animals. Infection induced a fall in both liver albumin mRNA levels and albumin synthesis relative to total liver protein synthesis. However, absolute liver albumin synthesis rate (ASR) was not affected by infection. In plasma, albumin fractional synthesis rate was increased by 50% in infected animals compared with pair-fed animals. The albumin ASR estimated in the plasma was similar in the two groups. These results suggest that hypoalbuminemia is not due to reduced albumin synthesis during sepsis. Moreover, liver and plasma albumin ASR were similar. Therefore, albumin synthesis measured in the plasma is a good indicator of liver albumin synthesis.