Previously, we documented that bacterial translocation occurs in rats fed an elemental liquid diet (4.25% amino acids plus 28% glucose) for 7 days. Since controversy exists over the protective effect of glutamine on diet-induced bacterial translocation, we compared the effect of two elemental diets, one containing 0% and the other 30% of amino acids as glutamine. After 7 days on the test diets or chow (307 kcal/kg/day), the rats were killed and half the animals had their organs cultured for translocating bacteria; immune function was quantitated in the other half by measuring the blood, splenic, and mesenteric lymph node (MLN) blastogenic responses to the T-cell mitogens phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and concanavalin A (ConA). The incidence of bacterial translocation was higher in the rats fed the glutamine (88%) or nonglutamine (75%) elemental diets than in the chow-fed rats (13%) (p < 0.05). Both elemental diets equally reduced the blastogenic response of lymphocytes harvested from all three lymphoid compartments (blood, spleen, MLN) (p < 0.01 vs. chow). The percentage of reduction averaged 30% to 40% when PHA was used as the test mitogen and 50% to 70% when ConA was used. These results indicate that glutamine does not prevent elemental diet-induced bacterial translocation or immune suppression.