Ni3N was prepared by gaseous nitriding of nickel substrates using gas mixtures of high nitrogen activities, composed of NH3 and H2 at 1 atm and at temperatures between 175 °C and 550 °C. At least above 300 °C closed Ni3N layers developed, which possess distinct compressive macrostrain parallel to the surface. The observed hkl-anisotropy of the macrostrain could be ascribed to the elastic anisotropy as indicated by the single-crystal elastic constants of Ni3N obtained from first-principles calculations performed in this work. The macrostress originates from the thermal misfit between layer and substrate, developing upon cooling. The extent of macrostress is reduced by partial misfit accommodation by plastic deformation as well as by porosity.