1. Five healthy male subjects were studied by continuous infusion of L-[alpha-15N]lysine over 20-30 h with timed blood and urine samples, and two or three percutaneous needle biopsies of vastus lateralis muscle. 2. A standard creatine-free diet, quantitatively related to body surface area, was given for 5 days before the infusion. The [15N]lysine was administered at a constant rate in an amino acid solution with a nitrogen content of 0-96 mol/l, which constituted the sole source of exogenous nitrogen during the infusion. 3. A plateau level of plasma free [15N]lysine enrichment was achieved after infusion for 14 h. The total plasma lysine flux calculated from the plateau was 7-3 mmol/h (range 4-8-9-6). Total body protein turnover calculated from the lysine flux was 3-5 g day-1 kg body wt.-1 (range 2-5-5-0). 4. Muscle sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar fractions were separated, purified and the 15N enrichment was measured. The sarcoplasmic protein fractional synthetic rate was calculated as 3-8%/day (range 2-2-5-1). The myofibrillar protein synthetic rate was 1-46%/day (range 1-09-2-44). 5. Muscle mass, calculated from 24 h creatinine excretion, was 33-7 kg (range 28-8-37-4), which represented 50-0% of body weight (range 38-9-58-1). Total muscle protein synthesis was calculated to account for 53-2% (range 39-5-62-1) of total body protein syntehsis. 6. The advantages and limitations of using continuous infusion of [15N]lysine in human subjects are discussed.