Mangrove forests are sites of intense carbon and nutrient cycling, which result in soil carbon sequestration on a global scale. Currently, mangrove forests receive increasing quantities of exogenous nutrients due to coastal development. The present paper quantifies the effects of nutrient loading on microbial growth rates and the mineralisation of soil organic carbon (SOC) in two mangrove soils contrasting in carbon content. An increase in SOC mineralisation rates would lead to the loss of historically sequestered carbon and an enhanced CO2 release from these mangrove soils.In an incubation experiment we enriched soils from Avicennia and Rhizophora mangrove forests bordering the Red Sea with different combinations of nitrogen, phosphorus and glucose to mimic the effects of wastewater influx. We measured microbial growth rates as well as carbon mineralisation rates in the natural situation and after enrichment. The results show that microbial growth is energy limited in both soils, with nitrogen as a secondary limitation. Nitrogen amendment increased the rate at which labile organic carbon was decomposed, while it decreased SOC mineralisation rates. Such an inhibitory effect on SOC mineralisation was not found for phosphorus enrichment.Our data confirm the negative effect of nitrogen enrichment on the mineralisation of recalcitrant carbon compounds found in other systems. Based on our results it is not to be expected that nutrient enrichment by itself will cause degradation of historically sequestered soil organic carbon in nitrogen limited mangrove forests. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.