Whether a legume obtains its nitrogen (N) from the air, through dinitrogen fixation, or from the soil, as nitrate (NO3), may influence its susceptibility to zinc (Zn) deficiency. The influence of N source [potassium nitrate (KNO3)+ native soil N versus rhizobium-inoculated seed + native soil N] and phosphorus (P) (0 and 200 mg P/kg), and Zn fertilizers (0, 1, and 8 mg Zn/kg) on growth and nutrient composition of soybean (Glycine max L. cv. McCall) and navy bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L. cv. Seafarer) grown on a calcareous soil were studied under greenhouse conditions. Inoculated plants, but not their KNO3-treated counterparts, had root nodules. However, due to N deficiency resulting from suboptimal N fixation, growth of these inoculated plants, especially of navy bean, was poorer than that of similarly treated KNO3-fed plants. As a consequence of this restricted growth, responses to P and Zn fertilizers were generally greater in KNO3-treated plants. Added P decreased the yield of KNO3-treated navy bean in the absence of added Zn, but P-induced Zn deficiency had little effect on the growth of similarly treated inoculated plants. Plant excess bases (EB)/total plant N ratios [EB = 1/2 Ca + 1/2Mg + Na + K - Cl - total S (S = divalent) - total P (P = monovalent)] were less in KNO3-treated soybean than in correspondingly treated navy bean. Therefore, rhizosphere pH values around navy bean roots were probably less than those around soybean roots. Despite the hypothesized lower rhizosphere pH values, KNO3-treated navy bean was more susceptible to Zn deficiency than soybean. This greater susceptibility of navy bean to Zn deficiency was apparently at least partly due to poor translocation of Zn from the roots to the tops.