Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity is induced by protein-synthesis independent mechanisms in freshly isolated rat hepatocytes, incubated either without or with a mixture of amino acids in the incubation medium. Urea synthesis rates were two- to three-fold higher in those hepatocytes incubated in the presence of amino acids that in those lacking amino acids in the medium. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) delayed ODC induction, but only in the presence of amino acids. EGF significantly decreased ureagenesis when hepatocytes were incubated in the presence of amino acids and only endogenous substrates were available. No evidence of any link between ODC induction and urea synthesis was found.