The present study was designed to determine whether reduced amino acid uptake in skeletal muscle during endotoxemia is due to associated hypotension or is caused by a factor present in plasma. Three series of experiments were performed. In the first series of experiments, mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate, and amino acid uptake in incubated soleus muscles were measured after intravenous injection of endotoxin (1 mg/kg) in male Sprague-Dawley rats (40 to 60 g). Amino acid transport was measured by determining intracellular uptake of [3H]-α-amino-isobutyric acid (AIB) during 2 hours of incubation. In the second series of experiments, hypotension was induced by bleeding and muscle amino acid uptake was measured. In the third series of experiments, whole plasma or a low molecular weight fraction (<10,000 d) of plasma endotoxin-injected rats was added in vitro to incubated muscles and amino acid uptake was determined. One hour after injection of endotoxin, MAP was reduced from 80 ± 2 mmHg to 54 ± 4 mmHg (p <0.05). AIB uptake was reduced by 20% (p <0.05) 2 hours after endotoxin injection. When MAP was maintained at 50 mmHg for 1 hour by bleeding, no changes in muscle AIB uptake were noted. When plasma obtained from rats 2 hours after endotoxin injection was added to incubated soleus muscles, AIB uptake was reduced by 22%. This effect was duplicated by a fraction of endotoxic plasma containing substances with a molecular weight less than 10,000 d. The present results suggest that reduced muscle amino acid uptake during endotoxemia is not due to associated hypotension, but may be caused by a circulating factor(s) with a molecular weight less than 10,000 d.