The rates of protein synthesis and degradation and of amino acid transport were determined in the leg muscle of untrained postabsorptive normal volunteers at rest and approximately 3 h after a resistance exercise routine. The methodology involved use of stable isotopic tracers of amino acids, arteriovenous catheterization of the femoral vessels, and biopsy of the vastus lateralis muscle. During postexercise recovery, the rate of intramuscular phenylalanine utilization for protein synthesis increased above the basal value by 108 +/- 18%, whereas the rate of release from proteolysis increased by 51 +/- 17%. Muscle protein balance improved (P < 0.05) after exercise but did not become positive (from -15 +/- 12 to -6 +/- 3 nmol phenylalanine.min-1.100 ml leg volume-1). After exercise, rates of inward transport of leucine, lysine, and alanine increased (P < 0.05) above the basal state from 132 +/- 16 to 208 +/- 29, from 122 +/- 8 to 260 +/- 8, and from 384 +/- 71 to 602 +/- 89 nmol.min-1.100 ml leg-1, respectively. Transport of phenylalanine did not change significantly. These results indicate that, during recovery after resistance exercise, muscle protein turnover is increased because of an acceleration of synthesis and degradation. A postexercise acceleration of amino acid transport may contribute to the relatively greater stimulation of protein synthesis.