Diazotrophs are able to stimulate plant growth. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of inoculation of five diazotrophic strains on growth promotion and nitrate reductase (NR, EC 184.108.40.206) activity in sugarcane. An experiment was carried out from three stages of cultivation: sprouting, tubes, and in hydroponics. On the first two stages, seven treatments were adopted: uninoculated control; mixed inoculation with five strains; and individual inoculation with Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus (Gd), Herbaspirillum rubrisubalbicans (Hr), Herbaspirillum seropedicae (Hs), Nitrospirillum amazonense (Na), and Paraburkholderia tropica (Pt). The four treatments showing the best performance were transferred to the hydroponic system for analysis of NR activity. Hs, Pt, and the mixture of all strains led to the highest seedling biomass in tubes, followed by Hr. In hydroponics, the mixture and the strain Hr had the highest growth-promoting effect. NR activity was influenced by inoculation only under low N supply conditions, with positive effect of Hr, Pt, and the mixture.