Summary Experiments were carried out with slurries of saltmarsh sediment to which varying concentrations of nitrate were added. The acetylene blocking technique was used to measure denitrification by accumulation of nitrous oxide, while reduction of nitrate to nitrite and ammonium was also measured. There was good recovery of reduced nitrate and at the smallest concentration of nitrate used (250 μM) there was approximately equal reduction to either ammonium or nitrous oxide (denitrification). Nitrite was only a minor end-product of nitrate reduction. As the nitrate concentration was increased the proportion of the nitrate which was denitrified to nitrous oxide increased, to 83% at the greatest nitrate concentration used (2 mM), while reduction to ammonium correspondingly decreased. This change was attributed either to a greater competitiveness by the denitrifiers for nitrate as the ratio of electron donor to electron acceptor decreased; or to the increased production of nitrite rather than ammonium by fermentative bacteria under high nitrate, the nitrite then being reduced to nitrous oxide by denitrifying bacteria.