1. Piglets were weaned at 3 d of age and reared to 2.5 kg on a liquid diet in which the protein was supplied by dried skim milk and a mixture of free amino acids. The oxidation of L-[l-14C]phenyIalanine was measured as an indication of the partition of amino acids between retention and catabolism in pigs (2.5 kg) offered meals containing vaned concentrations of crude protein (nitrogen x 6.25).
2. The dietary protein concentration was varied either by increasing the inclusion of a mixture of free amino acids in a series of diets containing 100 g protein/kg from skim milk, or by increasing the level of inclusion of the skim milk in a series of diets containing the equivalent of 100 g protein/kg from the free amino acid mixture.
3. The oxidation of phenylalanine was minimized by dietary protein concentrations of 240 and 258 g/kg for the diets containing increasing concentrations of free amino acids or skim milk respectively.
4. These results show that a mixture of free amino acids is used more effectively than intact protein for promoting retention of essential amino acids.
5. The recovery of radioactivity in expired carbon dioxide was inversely related to the recovery of radioactivity in liver tissue when the concentration of dietary crude protein was increased from deficient to adequate, demonstrating that the fractional oxidation of the indicator amino acid was inversely related to protein synthesis.