Nitrate uptake, nitrate reductase activity (NRA) and net proton release were compared in five grain legumes grown at 0.2 and 2 mM nitrate in nutrient solution. Nitrate treatments, imposed on 22-d-old, fully nodulated plants, lasted for 21 d. Increasing nitrate supply did not significantly influence the growth of any of the species during the treatment, but yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus) had a higher growth rate than the other species examined. At 0.2 mM nitrate supply, nitrate uptake rates ranged from 0.6 to 1.5 mg N g(-1) d(-1) in the order: yellow lupin > field pea (Pisum sativum) > chickpea (Cicer arietinum) > narrow-leafed lupin (L angustifolius) > white lupin (L albus). At 2 mM nitrate supply, nitrate uptake ranged from 1.7 to 8.2 mg N g(-1) d(-1) in the order: field pea > chickpea > white lupin > yellow lupin > narrow-leafed lupin. Nitrate reductase activity increased with increased nitrate supply, with the majority of NRA being present in shoots. Field pea and chickpea had much higher shoot NRA than the three lupin species. When 0.2 mM nitrate was supplied, narrow-leafed lupinreleased the most H+ per unit root biomass per day, followed by yellow lupin, white lupin, field pea and chickpea. At 2 mM nitrate, narrow-leafed lupin and yellow lupin showed net proton release, whereas the other species, especially field pea, showed net OH- release. Irrespective of legume species and nitrate supply, proton release was negatively correlated with nitrate uptake and NRA in shoots, but not with NRA in roots.