Nutrient resorption efficiency of woody plants, litterfall and nutrient fluxes were investigated in a burned and an unburned cerrado plot between October 1997 and September 1999. A large experiment (Fire Project, Brasília, Brazil) on the effects of prescribed burnings was initiated in 1992. Cerrado plots were delimited and subjected to different fire regimes. Seasonal trend of litterfall was similar in both plots but the production in the burned plot was 42.2 g m−2 y−1 before the fourth prescribed fire (September 1998) and decreased by 22% 1 y after burning while in the unburned plot it was around 230 gm−2 y−1. Although nutrient concentrations in leaf litter were higher in the burned plot, the nutrient fluxes were 60–80% lower than in the unburned plot. Nutrient use efficiency (ecosystem level) was 4373 for P and 137 for N. Measured resorption efficiency for 10 cerrado species ranged from 14.5 to 37.2% for N and from 40 to 70.4% for P and in general, there were no differences between plots. N is in short supply, partly because of fire history, but the results, both at ecosystem and species levels (mean N/P in fresh leaves was 18), indicated a stronger limitation by P than by N.