We tested the prediction that the successional replacement of plant species during succession on inland sand dunes results from the effects of an increase in nitrogen mineralization on competitive interactions. The growth and competitive strength of Festuca ovina and Deschampsia flexuosa on soil substrates with different amounts of soil organic matter or nitrogen supply were measured. Small tillers of Festuca ovina and Deschampsia flexuosa were grown in monocultures and 1:1-mixtures on soil columns with undisturbed layers of soil organic matter from different successional age. There was (a) no visible soil organic matter, (b) a thin soil organic layer (0.5 cm) and (c) a thicker soil organic layer (6.0 cm) present on the soil columns. The species were also grown on columns with no visible soil organic matter (bare sand) with two different levels of N fertilization to mimic the increased N mineralization in the older successional stages. In monoculture, Festuca produced more biomass on the substrates with a soil organic layer compared to the unfertilized sand substrate. It also produced more biomass on sand substrates with N fertilization. Deschampsia produced more biomass in treatments with a soil organic layer compared to the bare sand treatments, but did not respond to the ammonium-nitrate addition. In competition, Festuca seemed to be the stronger competitor on the unfertilized sand substrate. Festuca was also the better competitor on the N fertilized sand treatments, while on the treatments with a soil organic layer Deschampsia was the winning species. Our results do not support the hypothesis that an increase in N supply is responsible for the replacement of Festuca by Deschampsia that concur with the accumulation of soil organic matter during succession in inland dunes.