We assessed the use of 15N-labeled dietary proteins as a possible tool for the determination of the true ileal amino acid (AA) digestibility in pigs. The first experiment was designed to study the dietary N excretion pattern at the ileum subsequent to the ingestion of a single 15N-labeled meal. In a second experiment, we compared ileal endogenous AA outputs and true AA digestibility estimates obtained in pigs ingesting 15N-labeled dietary proteins in a single meal vs. intravenous infusion of [15N]Ieucine for 10 d during the ingestion of a pea-based diet and a protein-free starch diet. The proportion of endogenous N found in the ileal digesta differed when the label was delivered orally (50%) vs. intravenously (72%) and changed with time. As a consequence, the true ileal AA digestibilities measured with labeled diets were lower. A third experiment demonstrated that this was due to the rapid recycling of labeled dietary N in endogenous moieties, because 15N was found in blood within 10 min of consuming the labeled meal, within 50 min of consumption in pancreatic enzymes, 90 min in bile and 4 h in ileal mucins. We conclude that the use of 15N-labeled meals for determination of true ileal AA digestibilities is limited by the fast recycling of dietary N in endogenous secretions following a single 15N-labeled meal. The accuracy of results will depend on meaningful estimates of AA flow during a limited period and accurate estimates of 15N in AA.