Small intestinal mucosal weight and nutrient absorption are significantly diminished early after cutaneous thermal injuries. Because these intestinal properties are highly dependent on rates of nucleic acid and protein synthesis, in vivo incorporation of thymidine, uridine, and leucine into small intestinal deoxyribonucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, and proteins were measured. Deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis was markedly decreased with the lowest thymidine incorporation in the jejunum (p less than 0.01); these findings were confirmed by autoradiographic identification of radiolabeled nuclei in the intestinal crypts. Protein synthesis was decreased by 6 h postinjury (p less than 0.01) but had returned to normal by 48 h. Consistent with a decreased rate of protein synthesis, ribonucleic acid synthesis was also decreased 18 h postinjury (p less than 0.01). These decreased deoxyribonucleic acid, ribonucleic acid, and protein synthesis rates are not likely a result of ischemia because in other studies of this injury model, intestinal blood flow was not significantly changed by the burn injury. Potentially, factors initiating the acute inflammatory reaction may directly inhibit nucleic acid and protein synthesis and lead to alterations in nutrient absorption and intestinal barrier function after injury.