Porphyria was induced in adult male Wistar rats starved for 24 hr by SC injection of 400 mg/kg allylisopropylacetamide (AIA). The presence of porphyria was shown by measuring excretion of delta-aminolevulinic acid (delta-ALA) and porphobilinogen (PBG) into the urine during 24 hr after AIA administration. Plasma levels of glycine, serine and of a number of other amino acids were decreased in porphyric rats as compared to controls. Intraperitoneal injection of 2 mmol/kg serine 24 hr after AIA administration was used as an animal model for an acute psychosis, by measuring catalepsy scores 30 min after serine injection. The concentration of 5 different beta-carbolines in platelet rich plasma (PRP) was measured using an HPLC-fluorometric method. An increase in the concentration of norharman (NH) in PRP, ranging from 0.57 nmoles/l in control rats to 1.88 nmoles/l in serine treated porphyric rats was found. The catalepsy duration was exponentially correlated with the NH concentrations in PRP. It is concluded that an elevated conversion of serine into glycine via serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT) may be responsible for the enhanced NH biosynthesis.