To study the fate of L-cysteine and amino acid homeostasis in liver after the inhibition of the trans-sulfuration pathway, rats were treated with propargylglycine (PPG). At 4 h after the administration of PPG, liver cystathionase (EC 126.96.36.199) activity was undetectable, L-cystathionine levels were significantly higher, L-cysteine was unchanged and GSH concentration was significantly lower than values found in livers from control rats injected intraperitoneally with 0.15 M-NaCl. The hepatic levels of amino acids that are intermediates of the urea cycle, L-ornithine, L-citrulline and L-arginine and blood urea were significantly greater. Ura excretion was also higher in PPG-treated rats when compared with control rats. These data suggest a stimulation of ureagenesis in PPG-treated rats. The inhibition of gamma-cystathionase was reflected in the blood levels of amino acids, because the L-methionine: L-cyst(e)ine ratio was significantly higher in PPG-treated rats than in control rats; blood concentration of cystathionine was also greater. Histological examination of liver and kidney showed no changes in PPG-treated rats when compared with controls. The administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to PPG-treated rats reversed the changes in blood urea and in liver GSH. These data suggest that when liver L-cysteine production was impaired by the blockage of the trans-sulfuration pathway, the concentration of this amino acid was maintained mainly by an increase in protein degradation and by a depletion in GSH concentration that may spare L-cysteine.