Amino acids regulate signalling through the mTORC1 (mammalian target of rapamycin, complex 1) and thereby control a number of components of the translational machinery, including initiation and elongation factors. mTORC1 also positively regulates other anabolic processes, in particular ribosome biogenesis. The most effective single amino acid is leucine. A key issue is how intracellular amino acids regulate mTORC1. This does not require the TSC1/2 (tuberous sclerosis complex 1/2) complex, which is involved in the activation of mTORC1, for example, by insulin. Progress in understanding the mechanisms responsible for this will be reviewed.