1. Arginine can be produced in the kidney from citrulline. An important source of circulating citrulline is the intestinal breakdown of glutamine. Consequently, partial enterectomy leads to decreased plasma citrulline levels. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of diminished arterial citrulline levels on renal arginine production and total-body free arginine pools.2. Renal amino acid metabolism was studied 24 h after 75% small bowel resection in rats fasted overnight (16 h) (n=12; total fast 40 h). Sham-operated (n=9) and non-operated 16-h and 40-h fasted controls were studied in parallel (n=8/n=7). During anaesthesia, L-(2, 3-3H)-arginine and para-aminohippuric acid were infused until steady state. Subsequently, arterial and renal venous blood samples were taken. Concentrations of para-aminohippurate and amino acids and specific activity of arginine and citrulline were measured to calculate renal plasma flow, net renal uptake or release, and unidirectional influx or efflux of arginine and citrulline, as well as whole-body arginine turnover.3. Arterial citrulline was decreased in enterectomized rats compared with sham-operated rats (23+/-3 versus 44+/-6 microM). Net renal citrulline uptake and arginine release were almost stoichiometric (-36+/-7 and 38+/-6 nmol.min-1. 100 g-1 body weight respectively in sham-operated rats) and were both diminished by 50% in enterectomized versus sham-operated rats. In all groups, net renal arginine production accounted for less than 10% of whole-body rate of arginine appearance (488 nmol.min-1.100 g-1 body weight in the sham group). Despite decreased net renal citrulline consumption and renal arginine production in enterectomized rats, whole-body rate of arginine appearance and arterial arginine did not change significantly.4. In conclusion, net renal arginine production is reduced 24 h after 75% enterectomy in fasted rats. However, this does not have important effects on whole-body arginine production.