The efficiency of N fertilizers is usually poor; often less than 50% of the applied N is taken up by the crop. This review focuses on various N fertilizers with respect to the significance of different N loss pathways, namely (i) ammonia volatilization, (ii) dinitrogen and nitrogen oxide emissions, and (iii) nitrate leaching. Further, the significance of biological N immobilization, ammonium fixation and, finally, the impact of nitrate vs. ammonium uptake on crop yield are also discussed. The reviewed literature shows that N fertilizers may differ markedly in their susceptibility to losses. There is, however, considerable scope to improve N efficiency of each N source by proper N management practices. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1–800–342–9678. E-mail address: [email protected] ]