Nitrogen emissions from dairy cows can be readily decreased by lowering the dietary CP concentration. The main objective of this work was to test whether the milk protein yield reduction associated with low N intakes could be partially compensated for by modifying the dietary carbohydrate composition (CHO). The effects of CHO on digestion, milk N efficiency (milk N/N intake; MNE) and animal performance were studied in four Jersey cows fed 100% or 80% of the recommended protein requirements using a 4×4 Latin square design. Four iso-energetic diets were formulated to two different CHO sources (starch diets with starch content of 34.3% and NDF at 32.5%, and fiber diets with starch content of 5.5% and NDF at 49.1%) and two CP levels (Low=12.0% and Normal=16.5%). The apparent digestible organic matter intake (DOMI) and the protein supply (protein digestible in the small intestine; PDIE) were similar between starch and fiber diets. As planned, microbial N flow (MNF) to the duodenum, estimated from the urinary purine derivatives (PD) excretion, was similar between Low and Normal CP diets. However, the MNF and the efficiency of microbial synthesis (g of microbial N/kg apparently DOMI) were higher for starch v. fiber diets. Milk and milk N fractions (CP, true protein, non-protein N (NPN)) yield were higher for starch compared with fiber diets and for Normal v. Low CP diets. Fecal N excretion was similar across dietary treatments. Despite a higher milk N ouput with starch v. fiber diets, the CHO modified neither the urinary N excretion nor the milk urea-N (MUN) concentration. The milk protein yield relative to both N and PDIE intakes was improved with starch compared with fiber diets. Concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate, urea and Glu increased and those of glucose and Ala decreased in plasma of cows fed starch v. fiber diets. On the other hand, plasma concentration of albumin, urea, insulin and His increased in cows fed Normal compared with Low CP diets. This study showed that decreasing the dietary CP proportion from 16.5% to 12.0% increases and decreases considerably the MNE and the urinary N excretion, respectively. Moreover, present results show that at similar digestible OM and PDIE intakes, diets rich in starch improves the MNE and could partially compensate for the negative effects of Low CP diets on milk protein yield.