Three levels of nitrogen (N) were applied to cotton grown in irrigated field trials at two locations in Zimbabwe in 1978. Dry matter (DM) production, total uptake and distribution of N among vegetative and reproductive components, and soil mineral-N contents were recorded about every 14 days. About 60% of total DM was produced, and 40% of total N taken up, between 10 and 16 weeks after sowing. Most N was present in vegetative parts, particularly leaves and branches, during early growth but, later, it accumulated in buds, flowers and bolls. At maturity, seeds and lint contained 42% of total above-ground plant N. N concentrations were similar in sympodial and mainstem leaves, petioles and branches. Inorganic N applied at sowing had little effect on plant N, but when given after 10 weeks it increased the N content of leaves, stems, branches, petioles and bolls.