The goal of these studies was to investigate the mechanisms by which amino acid supply regulates global rates of protein synthesis as well as the translation of ribosomal protein (rp) mRNAs in liver. In the experiments conducted, male weanling rats were trained over a 2-wk period to consume their daily food intake within 3 h. On day 14, rats were fed the control diet or an isocaloric, isonitrogenous diet lacking glycine, tryptophan, leucine, or the branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) for 1 h. Feeding Trp-, Leu-, or BCAA-deficient diets resulted in significant reductions in serum insulin, hepatic protein synthesis, eukaryotic initiation factor 2B (eIF2B) activity, and phosphorylation of eIF4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) and ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K1). Phosphorylation of eIF2alpha was inversely related to eIF2B activity under all conditions. Alterations in the hepatic synthesis of rp were assessed by changes in the distribution of rp (S4, S8, L26) mRNAs across sucrose density gradients and compared with non-rp (beta-actin, albumin) mRNAs. In all dietary treatments, non-rp mRNAs were mostly polysome associated. Conversely, the proportion of rp mRNAs residing in polysomes was two- to fivefold less in rats fed diets lacking tryptophan, leucine, or BCAA compared with rats fed the control diet. Total hepatic abundance of all mRNAs examined did not differ among treatment groups. For all parameters examined, there were no differences between rats fed the glycine-deficient diet and rats fed the control diet. The data suggest that essential amino acid (EAA) deficiency inhibits global rates of liver protein synthesis via a block in translation initiation. Additionally, the translation of rp mRNAs is preferentially repressed in association with decreased S6K1 phosphorylation.