We followed the movements of 15N-labelled nitrate additions into biomass and soil pools of experimental plots (15×15 m each) in a mid-successional beech-maple-birch-spruce forest in order to identify sinks for nitrate inputs to a forest ecosystem. Replicate plots (n=3) were spray-irrigated with either 28 or 56 kg N ha-1 year-1 using 15N-labelled nitric acid solutions (δ15N = 344‰ ) during four successive growing seasons (April-October). The 15N contents of foliage, bolewood, forests floor and mineral soil (0-5 cm) increased during the course of treatments. Mass balance calculations showed that one-fourth to one-third of the nitrate applied to forest plots was assimilated into and retained by above ground plant tissues and surface soil horizons at both rates of nitrate application. Plant and microbial assimilation were of approximately equal importance in retaining nitrate additions to this forest. Nitrate use among tree species varied, however, with red spruce showing lower rates of nitrate assimilation into foliage and bolewood than American beech and other deciduous species.