This study tests the hypothesis that a dose of 6 g of orally administered essential amino acids (EAAs) stimulates net muscle protein balance in healthy volunteers when consumed 1 and 2 h after resistance exercise. Subjects received a primed constant infusion of L-[(2)H(5)]phenylalanine and L-[1-(13)C]leucine. Samples from femoral artery and vein and biopsies from vastus lateralis were obtained. Arterial EAA concentrations increased severalfold after drinks. Net muscle protein balance (NB) increased proportionally more than arterial AA concentrations in response to drinks, and it returned rapidly to basal values when AA concentrations decreased. Area under the curve for net phenylalanine uptake above basal value was similar for the first hour after each drink (67 +/- 17 vs. 77 +/- 20 mg/leg, respectively). Because the NB response was double the response to two doses of a mixture of 3 g of EAA + 3 g of nonessential AA (NEAA) (14), we conclude that NEAA are not necessary for stimulation of NB and that there is a dose-dependent effect of EAA ingestion on muscle protein synthesis.