Several stress conditions are characterized by activation of 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and the development of leucine resistance in skeletal muscle. In the present study, we determined whether direct activation of the AMPK by 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-D-ribonucleoside (AICAR) prevents the characteristic leucine-induced increase in protein synthesis by altering mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signal transduction. Rats were injected with AICAR or saline (Sal) and 1 h thereafter received an oral gavage of leucine (or Sal). Efficacy of AICAR was verified by increased AMPK phosphorylation. AICAR decreased basal in vivo muscle (gastrocnemius) protein synthesis and completely prevented the leucine-induced increase, independent of a change in muscle adenine nucleotide concentration. AICAR also prevented the hyperphosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4E binding protein (4E-BP1), ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K1), S6, and eIF4G in response to leucine, suggesting a decrease in mTOR activity. Moreover, AICAR prevented the leucine-induced redistribution of eIF4E from the inactive eIF4E.4E-BP1 to the active eIF4E.eIF4G complex. This ability of AICAR to produce muscle leucine resistance could not be attributed to a change in phosphorylation of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)2, the formation of a TSC1.TSC2 complex, the binding of raptor with mTOR, or the phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor-2. However, the inhibitory actions of AICAR were associated with reduced phosphorylation of proline-rich Akt substrate-40 and increased phosphorylation of raptor, which represent potential mechanisms by which AICAR might be expected to inhibit leucine-induced increases in mTOR activity and protein synthesis under in vivo conditions.