The Arctic is often assumed to be an NH4+-dominated ecosystem. This review assesses the validity of this assumption. It also addresses the question of whether Arctic plant growth is limited by the ability to use the forms of nitrogen that are available. The review demonstrates that several sources of soil nitrogen are available to Arctic plants, including soluble organic nitrogen (e.g. glycine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid), NH4+ and NO−3. In mesic Arctic soils, soluble organic nitrogen is potentially more important than either NH+4 or NO−3. Many Arctic species are capable of taking up soluble organic nitrogen (either directly and/or in association with ectomycorrhizae), with the greatest potential for soluble organic nitrogen uptake being exhibited by deciduous species. The ability to take up soluble organic nitrogen may enable some Arctic plants to avoid nitrogen limitations imposed by the slow rate of organic matter decomposition. NO−3 is also present in many Arctic soils, especially calcareous soils and soils near flowing water, animal burrows and bird cliffs. Arctic species characteristic of mesic and xeric habitats are capable of taking up and assimilating NO−3. Even when present in lower concentrations in soils than NH+4, NO−3 is still an important source of nitrogen for some Arctic plants. Arctic-plants therefore have a variety of nitrogen sources available to them, and are capable of using those nitrogen sources. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the Arctic is not an NH+4dominated ecosystem. Symbiotic fixation of atmospheric N2 does not appear to be an important source of nitrogen for Arctic plants. The reliance of Arctic plants on internal recycling of nitrogen substantially reduces their dependence on soil nitrogen uptake (this is particularly the case for slow-growing evergreens). Despite the high level of internal nitrogen recycling, Arctic plant growth remains limited by the low levels of available soil nitrogen. However, Arctic plant growth is not limited by an inability to utilize any of the available forms of nitrogen. The potential effects of climatic warming on nitrogen availability and use are discussed. The question of whether the Arctic ecosystem is uniquely different from temperate nitrogen-deficient ecosystems is also assessed.