The aim of this study was to test the potential of four isolates of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi to utilize organic nitrogen (N) at two different substrate pHs. The organic N source ((1)5N labelled lyophilised fungal mycelium) was mixed with either untreated peat/sand mixture (pH 4.9) or peat/sand mixture limed to a pH of 5.9 and put in cylindrical containers added to each pot. The content of the containers was separated from the roots of Pinus sylvestris seedlings by a nylon mesh and a 2 mm air gap to reduce diffusion of labelled N to the roots. The mycorrhizal plants (except those colonized by Suillus variegatus 2) took up significantly more (1)5N from the labelled mycelium than uncolonized seedlings. Liming significantly reduced the uptake of (1)5N by one of the EM fungi (unidentified) but not the other tested species (Paxillus involutus and two isolates of S. variegatus). The EM fungal isolates differed in their influence on the bacterial activity of the soil. This was reduced with P. involutus at both pH levels and increased with one of the two S. variegatus isolates at the high pH and with the other S. variegatus isolate at the low pH level. Liming the soil generally increased bacterial activity. The influence of liming on the proportion of organic N uptake in relation to inorganic N uptake by ectomycorrhizal trees is discussed.