Increased plasma levels of the catabolic hormones glucagon, epinephrine, and cortisol have been implicated in mediating various metabolic alterations in trauma and sepsis. Their role in altered protein turnover and amino acid transport in skeletal muscle during sepsis, however, is not known. In the current study, rats were infused with a mixture of the catabolic hormones for 16 hours. Control animals were infused with vehicle solution. Protein synthesis and degradation rates were measured in incubated, intact soleus muscles as incorporation of 14C-phenylalanine into protein and release of tyrosine into incubation medium, respectively. Muscle amino acid uptake was determined by measuring the intracellular to extracellular ratio of [3H]-α-aminoisobutyric acid after incubation for 2 hours. Infusion of catabolic hormones for 16 hours resulted in elevated plasma glucose and lactate levels, reduced plasma concentrations of most amino acids, and accelerated muscle protein breakdown, similar to previous findings in septic rats. Protein synthesis rates and amino acid uptake in incubated museles were not significantly different in control and hormone-infused rats. The current study suggests that increased muscle proteolysis in sepsis and severe injury may be mediated in part by catabolic hormones. In contrast, reduced muscle protein synthesis and amino acid uptake are probably signaled by other substances or mechanisms.