The rate of synthesis of glycosaminoglycans by cartilage was shown to be dependent on an exogenous source of L-glutamine. In the absence of L-glutamine the tissue and cellular levels of this amino acid were rapidly depleted. The levels of nucleotide sugars and their precursors were measured after separation on Dowex 1 (formate form) in cartilage incubated with and without L-glutamine. It was found that the levels of N-acetylhexoamine 6-phosphate and UDP-N-acetylhexosamine were decreased by 27 and 40% respectively. This demonstrates that L-glutamine is required as the amido group donor in the synthesis of glucosamine 6-phosphate and that the decrease in glycosaminoglycan synthesis is due to the limitation in synthesis of UDP-N-acetylhexoamine.