Small birch plants were grown for up to 80 d in a climate chamber at varied relative addition rates of nitrogen in culture solution, and at ambient (350 μmol mol-1) or elevated (700 μmol mol-1) concentrations of CO2. The relative addition rate of nitrogen controlled relative growth rate accurately and independently of CO2 concentration at sub-optimum levels. During free access to nutrients, relative growth rate was higher at elevated CO2. Higher values of relative growth rate and net assimilation rate were associated with higher values of plant N-concentration. At all N-supply rates, elevated CO2 resulted in higher values of net assimilation rate, whereas leaf weight ratio was independent of CO2. Specific leaf area (and leaf area ratio) was less at higher CO2 and at lower rates of N-supply. Lower values of specific leaf area were partly because of starch accumulation. Nitrogen productivity (growth rate per unit plant nitrogen) was higher at elevated CO2. At sub-optimal N-supply, the higher net assimilation rate at elevated CO2 was offset by a lower leaf area ratio. Carbon dioxide did not affect root/shoot ratio, but a higher fraction of plant dry weight was found in roots at lower N-supply. In the treatment with lowest N-supply, five times as much root length was produced per amount of plant nitrogen in comparison with optimum plants. The specific fine root length at all N-supplies was greater at elevated CO2. These responses of the root system to lower N-supply and elevated CO2 may have a considerable bearing on the acquisition of nutrients in depleted soils at elevated CO2. The advantage of maintaining steady-state nutrition in small plants while investigating the effects of elevated CO2 on growth is emphasized.