In the rat, changes in dietary protein intake give rise to changes in the levels of ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) in liver and small intestine-an increase in liver and decrease in small intestine. The changes in enzyme level are accompanied by similar changes in levels of specific mRNA. Thus in liver, there is an increase in the level of specific mRNA when protein intake is increased, whereas in small intestine there is a small decrease. Comparison of changes in specific mRNA with total poly-Acontaining RNA showed that the change in OTC mRNA in liver paralleled the change in total RNA levels. In contrast, in small intestine the small decrease in OTC mRNA levels when protein intake was increased was in the face of an increase in the level of total mRNA. Whereas the level of OTC is 20-fold higher in liver than in small intestine, the mRNA level for the enzyme differs by only 2� 5-fold.