In plants, the primary input of nitrogen (obtained from the soil or from symbiotic dinitrogen fixation) occurs through the assimilation of ammonia into organic form. Synthesis of glutamine (via glutamine synthetase) is the major, and possibly exclusive, route for this process, and there is little evidence for the participation of glutamate dehydrogenase. A variety of reactions distribute glutamine nitrogen to other compounds, including transfer to amino nitrogen through glutamate synthase. In many plants asparagine is a major recipient of glutamine nitrogen and provides a mobile reservoir for transport to sites of growth; ureides perform a similar function in some legumes. Utilisation of transport forms of nitrogen, and a number of other metabolic processes, involves release of ammonia, which must be reassimilated. In illuminated leaves, there is an extensive flux of ammonia released by the photorespiratory cycle, requiring continuous efficient reassimilation. Aspects of ammonia recycling and related amide metabolism in higher plants are reviewed.