Protein restriction ameliorates proteinuria in acute adriamycin (ADR) nephrosis and decreases the renal levels of xanthine oxidase (XO), a putative mediator of ADR nephrotoxicity. Hypothetically, the effect of protein restriction on renal XO levels may be due to variations in plasma and tissue proteic amino acids (AA). To elucidate this point, the levels of AA in plasma and in renal homogenates were determined in rats with ADR nephrosis and fed diets with different protein contents: (a) high (35%) casein; (b) standard (21%) casein; (c) low (9%) casein; (d) low casein plus a synthetic mixture of Val, Leu and Ile. The protein content of the diet determined certain marked variations in plasma AA: high levels of Val, Leu and Ile were found in rats fed on a high protein diet, while the same AA were low in rats on low protein regimen. Supplementation of the low protein diet with a synthetic mixture of branched-chain AA (Val, Leu and Ile) normalized the plasma levels of these AA. In spite of these changes, tissue AA were similar in all groups, regardless of the protein contents of the diets. Furthermore, the levels of renal XO and proteinuria were unrelated to variations in plasma AA, since both parameters were low in protein-restricted and protein-restricted AA-supplemented rats while high in rats fed a high or normoproteic diet. These data demonstrate that low protein diets induce marked alterations in plasma AA composition which are similar in may respects to those found in protein malnutrition. Tissue AA levels are not related to their circulating pool and no variation in renal proteosynthetic AA is determined by low protein diets, in spite of marked changes in their plasma levels. Finally, while the protein content of the diet influences renal levels of XO and proteinuria in ADR nephrotic rats, plasma AA do not. Other regulatory mechanisms of renal enzymes and of proteinuria by diet must therefore be hypothesized.