The ability of Arizona Common and Coastal Bermuda grass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] to synthesize amino acids and proteins during water stress was investigated. Amino acids were continually synthesized during the water stress treatments, but protein synthesis was inhibited and protein levels decreased.Water stress induced a 10- to 100-fold accumulation of free proline in shoots and a 2- to 6-fold accumulation of free asparagine, both of which are characteristic responses of water-stressed plants. Valine levels increased, and glutamic acid and alanine levels decreased.(14)C labeling experiments showed that free proline turns over more slowly than any other free amino acid during water stress. This proline is readily synthesized and accumulated from glutamic acid. It is suggested that during water stress free proline functions as a storage compound.No significant differences were found in the amino acid and protein metabolism of the 2 varieties of Bermuda grass.