Patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus who had three lumbar punctures during 1 week ingested either water, a protein breakfast, or a carbohydrate breakfast 2.5 h before each of the lumbar punctures. The CSF was analyzed for biogenic amine precursors and metabolites. The protein meal raised CSF tyrosine levels, a finding consistent with animal data, but did not alter those of tryptophan or any of the biogenic amine metabolites. The carbohydrate meal increased CSF 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethylene glycol, an unexplained finding. The carbohydrate meal did not affect CSF tryptophan, tyrosine, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, or homovanillic acid. Our results support the idea that in humans protein or carbohydrate meals do not alter plasma amino acid levels sufficiently to cause appreciable changes in CNS tryptophan levels or 5-hydroxytryptamine synthesis.