The aims of this study were to assess the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitors dicyandiamide (DCD) and nitrapyrin on reducing emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) following application of NH4/+ or NH4/+-forming fertilisers to grassland and spring barley. DCD was applied to grassland with N fertiliser applications in April and August in 1992 and 1993, inhibiting N2O emissions by varying amounts depending on the fertiliser form and the time of application. Over periods of up to 2 months following each application of DCD, emissions of N2O were reduced by 58-78% when applied with urea (U) and 41-65% when applied with ammonium sulphate (AS). Annual emissions (April to March) of N2O were reduced by up to 58% and 56% in 1992-1993 and 1993-1994, respectively. Applying DCD to ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilised grassland did not reduce emissions after the April 1993 fertilisation, but emissions following the August application were reduced. Nitrapyrin was only applied once, with the April ferfiliser applications in 1992, reducing N2O emissions over the following 12 months by up to 40% when applied with U. When N fertiliser was applied in June without DCD, the DCD applied in April was still partly effective; N2O emissions were reduced 50%, 60% and 80% as effectively as the emissions following the April applications, for AS in 1993, U in 1992 and 1993, respectively. In 1992 the persistence of an inhibitory effect was greater for nitrapyrin than for DCD, increasing after the June fertiliser application as overall emissions from U increased. There was no apparent reduction in effectiveness following repeated applications of DCD over the 2 years. N2O emissions from spring barley, measured only in 1993, were lower than from grassland. DCD reduced emissions from applied U by 40% but there was no reduction with AN. The results demonstrate considerable scope for reducing emissions by applying nitrification inhibitors with NH4/+ or NH4/+-forming fertilisers; this is especially so for crops such as intensively managed grass where there are several applications of fertiliser nitrogen per season, as the effect of inhibitors applied in April persists until after a second fertiliser application in June.