The present study was designed to determine whether consumption of an oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement (EAC) before exercise results in a greater anabolic response than supplementation after resistance exercise. Six healthy human subjects participated in two trials in random order, PRE (EAC consumed immediately before exercise), and POST (EAC consumed immediately after exercise). A primed, continuous infusion of L-[ring-(2)H(5)]phenylalanine, femoral arteriovenous catheterization, and muscle biopsies from the vastus lateralis were used to determine phenylalanine concentrations, enrichments, and net uptake across the leg. Blood and muscle phenylalanine concentrations were increased by approximately 130% after drink consumption in both trials. Amino acid delivery to the leg was increased during exercise and remained elevated for the 2 h after exercise in both trials. Delivery of amino acids (amino acid concentration times blood flow) was significantly greater in PRE than in POST during the exercise bout and in the 1st h after exercise (P < 0.05). Total net phenylalanine uptake across the leg was greater (P = 0.0002) during PRE (209 +/- 42 mg) than during POST (81 +/- 19). Phenylalanine disappearance rate, an indicator of muscle protein synthesis from blood amino acids, increased after EAC consumption in both trials. These results indicate that the response of net muscle protein synthesis to consumption of an EAC solution immediately before resistance exercise is greater than that when the solution is consumed after exercise, primarily because of an increase in muscle protein synthesis as a result of increased delivery of amino acids to the leg.