Nitrate (NOequation image) and ammonium (NHequation image) are the predominant forms of nitrogen (N) available to plants in agricultural soils. Nitrate concentrations are generally ten times higher than those of NHequation image and this ratio is consistent across a wide range of soil types. The possible contribution of these small concentrations of NHequation image to the overall N budget of crop plants is often overlooked. In this study the importance of this for the growth and nitrogen budget of maize (Zea mays L.) was investigated, using agriculturally relevant concentrations of NHequation image. Maize inbred line B73 was grown hydroponically for 30 d at low (0.5 mM) and sufficient (2.5 mM) levels of NOequation image. Ammonium was added at 0.05 mM and 0.25 mM to both levels of NOequation image. At low NOequation image levels, addition of NHequation image was found to improve the growth of maize plants. This increased plant growth was accompanied by an increase in total N uptake, as well as total phosphorus, sulphur and other micronutrients in the shoot. Ammonium influx was higher than NOequation image influx for all the plants and decreased as the total N in the nutrient medium increased. This study shows that agriculturally relevant proportions of NHequation image supplied in addition to NOequation image can increase growth of maize.