In the study of terrestrial N cycling, NH4 + concentration and 15N enrichment are routinely determined by colorimetric continuous flow analysis and microdiffusion methods. Amino acids can interfere in these determinations; consequently the aim of the present study was to evaluate the significance of the interference. Glycine and glutamine are key amino acids in soil and were therefore used as 'models'. Both glycine and glutamine interfered during continuous flow analysis, whereas interference during microdiffusion was of little importance. The effects of interference can be significant, e.g. estimates of gross mineralisation rate were reduced up to 33%, where we allowed for amino acid interference during determination of NH4 + concentration. The potential influence of amino acid interference emphasises that development of continuous flow analysis to increase NH4 + specificity is needed.