The kidney plays a major role in acid-base homeostasis by adapting the excretion of acid equivalents to dietary intake and metabolism. Urinary acid excretion is mediated by the secretion of protons and titratable acids, particularly ammonia. NH(3) is synthesized in proximal tubule cells from glutamine taken up via specific amino acid transporters. We tested whether kidney amino acid transporters are regulated in mice in which metabolic acidosis was induced with NH(4)Cl. Blood gas and urine analysis confirmed metabolic acidosis. Real-time RT-PCR was performed to quantify the mRNAs of 16 amino acid transporters. The mRNA of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) was quantified as positive control for the regulation and that of GAPDH, as internal standard. In acidosis, the mRNA of kidney system N amino acid transporter SNAT3 (SLC38A3/SN1) showed a strong induction similar to that of PEPCK, whereas all other tested mRNAs encoding glutamine or glutamate transporters were unchanged or reduced in abundance. At the protein level, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry demonstrated an increased abundance of SNAT3 and reduced expression of the basolateral cationic amino acid/neutral amino acid exchanger subunit y(+)-LAT1 (SLC7A7). SNAT3 was localized to the basolateral membrane of the late proximal tubule S3 segment in control animals, whereas its expression was extended to the earlier S2 segment of the proximal tubule during acidosis. Our results suggest that the selective regulation of SNAT3 and y(+)LAT1 expression may serve a major role in the renal adaptation to acid secretion and thus for systemic acid-base balance.