Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) stimulate protein synthesis, and growth hormone (GH) is a mediator in this process. A pre-exercise BCAA ingestion increases muscle BCAA uptake and use. Therefore after one month of chronic BCAA treatment (0.2 gkg(-1) of body weight), the effects of a pre-exercise oral supplementation of BCAA (9.64 g) on the plasma lactate (La) were examined in triathletes, before and after 60 min of physical exercise (75% of VO2 max). The plasma levels of GH (pGH) and of growth hormone binding protein (pGHBP) were also studied. The end-exercise La of each athlete was higher than basal. Furthermore, after the chronic BCAA treatment, these end-exercise levels were lower than before this treatment (8.6+/-0.8 mmol L(-1) after vs 12.8+/-1.0 mmol L(-1) before treatment; p < 0.05 [mean +/- std. err.]). The end-exercise pGH of each athlete was higher than basal (p < 0.05). Furthermore, after the chronic treatment, this end-exercise pGH was higher (but not significantly, p = 0.08) than before this treatment (12.2+/-2.0 ng mL(-1) before vs 33.8+/-13.6 ngmL(-1) after treatment). The end-exercise pGHBP was higher than basal (p < 0.05); and after the BCAA chronic treatment, this end-exercise pGHBP was 738+/-85 pmol L(-1) before vs 1691+/-555 pmol L(-1) after. pGH/pGHBP ratio was unchanged in each athlete and between the groups, but a tendency to increase was observed at end-exercise. The lower La at the end of an intense muscular exercise may reflect an improvement of BCAA use, due to the BCAA chronic treatment. The chronic BCAA effects on pGH and pGHBP might suggest an improvement of muscle activity through protein synthesis.