A simple method is described for measuring rates of protein synthesis and degradation in isolated rat diaphragm. Muscles incubated in Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer showed a linear rate of synthesis for 3 hours. At the same time, the muscle released tyrosine and ninhydrin-positive material, primarily amino acids, at a linear rate. This release was not a nonspecific leakage of material from the intracellular pools, but reflected net protein degradation. Tyrosine was chosen for studies of protein turnover, since it rapidly equilibrates between intracellular pools and the medium, it can be measured fluorometrically, and it is neither synthesized nor degraded by this tissue. To follow protein degradation independently of synthesis, muscles were incubated in the presence of cycloheximide. Under these conditions, the amount of tyrosine in the intracellular pools was constant, while the muscle released tyrosine at a linear rate. This tyrosine release was used as a measure of degradation. This preparation was used to study the influence of various factors known to be important for muscle growth on protein synthesis and degradation. Similar effects were obtained with diaphragms of normal and fasted rats although the latter showed decreased synthesis and increased protein degradation. Insulin by itself not only stimulated synthesis but also inhibited protein degradation (even in the presence of cycloheximide). These two effects served to reduce the net release of tyrosine from muscle protein to comparable extents. Effects of insulin on synthesis and degradation were greater when glucose was also present in the medium. Glucose by itself inhibited protein degradation but in the absence of insulin glucose had no significant effect on synthesis. Nevertheless, glucose stimulated incorporation of radioactivive tyrosine into protein, but this effect was due to an increased intracellular specific activity. Unlike glucose neither beta-hydroxybutyrate or octanoic acid had any demonstrable effects on protein degradion. The addition of amino acids at plasma concentrations both promoted protein synthesis and inhibited degradation in the diaphragm. Five times normal plasma concentrations of the amino acids had larger effects. The three branched chain amino acids together stimulated synthesis and reduced degradation, while the remaining plasma amino acids did not affect either process significantly. Thus leucine, isoleucine, and valine appear responsible for the effects of plasma amino or isoleucine and valine together, also were able to inhibit protein degradation and promote synthesis.