An experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of dietary levels of crude protein (CP), close to the range used commercially and to the European Commission recommended values, on the nitrogen (N) balance, ammonia (NH3) emission and pollutant characteristics of the slurry from growing and finishing pigs. Three feeding programmes with different CP levels were compared during the growing and the finishing periods of fattening. Diets were formulated to be isoenergetic and for the digestible lysine : metabolisable energy ratio to be similar in all the diets for each phase, but differed in CP concentration (160, 150 and 140 g CP/kg for the growing phase and 155, 145 and 135 g CP/kg for the finishing phase). Faeces and urine from barrows (eight replicates per diet) allocated in metabolism cages were collected separately for 5 days to calculate the N balance and for 2 days to measure NH3 emission in a laboratory system for 240 h. Excreta were analysed for pH, volatile fatty acids (VFA), total N, electrical conductivity (EC), total solids (TS), volatile solids (VS), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD) and NH4-N reduction of dietary CP content led to a linear decrease of urinary (P < 0.05) and total (P < 0.05) N excretion, and N excretion/feed intake (P < 0.001). The emission of NH3 was similar in all diets (P > 0.05) during the 240 h of study. However, in the growing phase, the NH3-N level in slurry was lower (P < 0.05) for the low-CP diet. In addition, the CP level had no significant effect (P > 0.05) on total VFA, EC, TS, VS, COD or BOD5 contents of excreta. These parameters were higher (P < 0.05) in slurry from the finishing phase than from the growing phase. However, NH4-N in the slurry decreased (P < 0.05) by 20.3% and 28.4% when the CP level was decreased by 9.30 or 21.40 g/kg, respectively. It is concluded that lowering dietary CP levels even by small amounts and using CP levels close to these used in commercial diets and close to the European Commission recommended values will decrease urinary and total N excretion in the slurry of growing-finishing pigs. The slurry from finishing pigs is more concentrated than that from growing pigs.