L-[1-13C]Glycine and L-[1-13C]leucine were infused as a bolus into 12 pregnant patients carrying normal fetuses before fetal blood sampling at gestational ages ranging from 20 to 37 wk. Maternal venous samples were obtained every 2-3 min for 15 min after the bolus infusion. Fetal samples were obtained from the umbilical vein within 15 min of the bolus. Amino acid plasma enrichments (molar percent enrichment) were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy and their concentrations by ion exchange chromatography. The ratios of glycine and leucine transfer were assessed from fetal/maternal enrichment ratios for each amino acid. We now report that over the gestational age range of 20-37 wk, under relatively undisturbed fetomaternal conditions (fetal blood sampling), human placental glycine transfer is limited, with a glycine/leucine ratio = 0.16 +/- 0.02. We hypothesize that, in human pregnancies, the relative rates of in vivo transplancental transport of amino acids can be assessed indirectly utilizing fetal blood sampling and stable isotope methodology. The application of this approach to leucine and glycine demonstrates that the transfer of leucine is rapid (demonstrable in seconds), whereas that of glycine is more limited.