To determine whether increasing dietary protein could exert a beneficial effect on bed-rest-related protein catabolism, two groups of normal subjects were subjected to 7 d of bed rest while taking isocaloric diets containing either 0.6 or 1.0 g protein.kg body wt-1.d-1. Whole-body-leucine turnover, leucine oxidation, and nonoxidative leucine disappearance were measured by use of a constant infusion of 1-13C-leucine. Before bed rest, the higher-protein diet resulted in a 14% decrease in whole-body-leucine turnover and a 28% decrease in leucine oxidation, but net nonoxidative leucine disappearance was not different on the two diets. A 24% decrease in nonoxidative leucine disappearance was seen in subjects assigned to the lower-protein diet, who had been on bed rest, but on the higher-protein diet, leucine kinetics were unchanged by bed rest. Bed rest does not cause an increase in whole-body-protein breakdown, but decreased whole-body-protein synthesis is demonstrable when dietary protein is low. This decrease is prevented by a higher dietary amount of protein.