Protein synthesis is downregulated during metabolic depression in a number of systems where the metabolic depression is effected by obvious extrinsic cues. The metabolic depression of the estivating land snail Helix apersa occurs in the absence of any obvious physiological stress and has an intrinsic component independent of temperature, pH, O(2) status, or osmolality. We show that this metabolic depression is accompanied by a downregulation of protein synthesis in vivo. The rate of protein synthesis decreases in two major tissues during estivation: to 23% and 53% of the awake rate in hepatopancreas and foot muscle, respectively. We show from calculations of the theoretical contribution of protein synthesis to total O(2) consumption that the depression of protein synthesis must be a significant, obligate, in vivo component of metabolic depression in H. aspersa.