Almost all boreal and temperate forest tree species live in symbiosis with ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF); the trees transfer carbon (C) to the fungi in exchange for nutrients and water. Several studies have shown that experimental application of inorganic nitrogen (N) represses production of EMF extramatrical mycelia (EMM), but studies along N deposition gradients are underrepresented. Other environmental variables than N may influence EMM production and in this study we included 29 thoroughly monitored Norway spruce stands from a large geographical region in Sweden in order to evaluate the importance of N deposition on EMM growth and N leaching in a broader context. It was concluded that N deposition was the most important factor controlling EMM production and that the amounts typically deposited in boreal and boreo-nemoral regions can be sufficient to reduce EMM growth. Other factors, such as phosphorus status and pH, were also correlated with EMM production and should be considered when predicting EMM growth and N leaching. We also showed that EMM production substantially contributed to the C sequestration (320 kg ha(-1) yr(-1)), suggesting that it should be included in C cycle modelling. Furthermore, EMF are probably important for the N retention capacity since high N leaching coincided with low EMM growth. However, it was not possible to differentiate between the effects of EMF and the direct effect of N deposition on N leaching in the present study. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.