Brain protein synthesis and the plasma concentration of growth hormone (GH) are sensitive to dietary ornithine. The purpose of this study was to determine whether dietary arginine, the metabolite of ornithine, affects the brain protein synthesis, and to that end, the effects of arginine on brain protein synthesis were compared with that of ornithine treatment in young rats. Two experiments were done on five or three groups of young rats (5-wk-old) given 0%, 0.25%, 0.5%, 0.7% arginine or 0.7% ornithine-HCl added to a 20% casein diet for 1 d (only one 3 h period) (Experiment 1), or given a diet containing 0% or 0.7% ornithine-HCl or 0.7% arginine added to a 20% casein diet (Experiment 2). The concentrations of plasma growth hormone (GH) and fractional rates of protein synthesis in the brains increased significantly with the 20% casein+0.7% arginine diet and still more with the 20% casein+0.7% ornithine diet compared with the 20% casein diet alone. In the cerebral cortex and cerebellum, the RNA activity [g protein synthesized/(g RNA•d)] significantly correlated with the fractional rate of protein synthesis. The RNA concentration (mg RNA/g protein) was also related to the fractional rate of protein synthesis in these organs. The results suggest that the treatment with arginine is likely to increase the concentrations of GH and the rate of brain protein synthesis in rats, and that the effects of arginine on brain protein synthesis and GH concentration were lower than that of ornithine. The RNA activity is at least partly related to the fractional rate of brain protein synthesis.