Human mobilization and use of reactive nitrogen (Nr) has beenone of the major aspects of global change over the past century.Nowhere has that change been more dramatic than in China, whereannual net Nr creation increased from 9.2 to 56 Tg from 1910 to2010. Since 1956, anthropogenic Nr creation exceeded natural Nrcreation, contributing over 80% of total Nr until 2010. There is greatinterest and uncertainty in the fate and effects of this Nr in China.Here, a comprehensive inventory of Nr in China shows that Nr(including recycled Nr) has continuously and increasingly accu-mulated on land (from 17 to 45 Tg), accompanied by increasingtransfers to the atmosphere (before deposition; from 7.6 to 20 Tg),inland waters (from 2.7 to 9.6 Tg), and coastal waters (from 4.5 to7.7 Tg) over the past 30 y. If current trends continue, Nr creationfrom human activities will increase to 63 Tg by 2050, raising concernsabout deleterious environmental consequences for land, air, andwater at regional and global scales. Tremendous amounts of Nr haveaccumulated in plants, soils, and waters in China over the past 30 y,but the retention capacity of the terrestrial landscape seems to bedeclining. There is a possibility that the negative environmentaleffects of excessive Nr may accelerate in coming decades, increasingthe urgency to alter the trajectory of increasing Nr imbalance. Here,a conceptual framework of the relationships between humandrivers and Nr cycling in China is oriented and well-targeted toChinese abatement strategies for Nr environmental impact.