The rate of kidney protein turnover in humans is not known. To this aim, we have measured kidney protein synthesis and degradation in postabsorptive humans using the arterio-venous catheterization technique combined with 14C-leucine, 15N-leucine, and 3H-phenylalanine tracer infusions. These measurements were compared with those obtained across the splanchnic bed, the legs (approximately muscle) and in the whole body. In the kidneys, protein balance was negative, as the rate of leucine release from protein degradation (16.8 +/- 5.1 mumol/min.1.73 m2) was greater (P < 0.02) than its uptake into protein synthesis (11.6 +/- 5.1 mumol/min. 1.73 m2). Splanchnic net protein balance was approximately 0 since leucine from protein degradation (32.1 +/- 9.9 mumol/min. 1.73 m2) and leucine into protein synthesis (30.8 +/- 11.5 mumol/min. 1.73 m2) were not different. In the legs, degradation exceeded synthesis (27.4 +/- 6.6 vs. 20.3 +/- 6.5 mumol/min. 1.73 m2, P < 0.02). The kidneys extracted alpha-ketoisocaproic acid, accounting for approximately 70% of net splanchnic alpha-ketoisocaproic acid release. The contributions by the kidneys to whole-body leucine rate of appearance, utilization for protein synthesis, and oxidation were approximately 11%, approximately 10%, and approximately 26%, respectively; those by the splanchnic area approximately 22%, approximately 27%, and approximately 18%; those from estimated total skeletal muscle approximately 37%, approximately 34%, and approximately 48%. Estimated fractional protein synthetic rates were approximately 42%/d in the kidneys, approximately 12% in the splanchnic area, and approximately 1.5% in muscle. This study reports the first estimates of kidney protein synthesis and degradation in humans, also in comparison with those measured in the splanchnic area, the legs, and the whole-body.