Plasma amino acid concentrations have been investigated in 12 female patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), who were hospitalized for two 14-day periods, one of which included 7 days of total fasting, whereas the other served as control period with normal food intake. All medical treatment was stopped on admission to the hospital. Plasma amino acid levels were repeatedly determined during both periods. Another group, consisting of 8 healthy volunteers, also underwent total fasting, for 6 days. The response to food deprivation with regard to plasma amino acid levels was compared with that in the RA patients. The results obtained from the control period were compared with those derived from age and sex matched healthy controls. RA disease was not characterized by a typical amino acid pattern. Major increases were seen in the concentrations of taurine, aspartate, glutamate, glycine, 1-methyl histidine, isoleucine and arginine. Rather smaller yet significant elevations could be observed in the levels of cystein, threonine, serine, citrulline, methionine and leucine. The only amino acid to show a lowered concentration was alpha-aminobutyrate. Most of the alterations induced by fasting were similar to those in healthy volunteers. An exception was the levels of taurine, which evidenced in RA patients a further increase during starvation, not observed in healthy volunteers, and valine which exhibited, a smaller increment than that apparent in healthy controls. The increase in sulphur-containing amino acids might be interpreted as a sign of an enhanced glutathione (GSH) catabolism, whereas the differing metabolic behaviour of branched chain amino acids (BCAA) suggests a specific reaction of valine in RA disease, similar to that in other catabolic diseases.