Four greenhouse and 2 field experiments (the latter on a sandy soil) were carried out with different amounts and dates of N application to analyse the dynamics of dry matter and N accumulation in spinach (cv. Trias). Frequent measurements were carried out on dry matter and N accumulation in leaf blades, petioles and stems. The total accumulation of dry matter and N differed largely among and within experiments. Increasing N application increased yield of dry matter and N accumulation, whereas splitting N applications had much smaller effects. However, the partitioning of dry matter and N proved insensitive to N treatments. Harvest indices for dry matter (about 0.67) or N (about 0.74) of crops at a marketable stage were fairly constant over treatments and experiments. Increasing or splitting the N application affected N accumulation more than dry matter production, resulting in large effects on N concentrations. The lack of variation in response to N for different N regimes facilitates the development of N application techniques aimed at high yield, high quality and reduced emissions. The organic N concentration of leaf blades and petioles decreased with leaf age, although in most experiments this decrease was smaller at higher leaf numbers. The nitrate-N concentration decreased with increasing leaf number at any sampling date; it was higher when N was abundant. High yields in autumn crops were associated with high nitrate concentrations but also with potentially high losses of N.