The ANR1 MADS-box gene in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. has previously been identified as a key regulator of lateral root growth in response to signals from external nitrate (NO3−). We have used quantitative real-time PCR to investigate the responsiveness of ANR1 and 11 other root-expressed MADS-box genes to fluctuations in the supply of N, P and S. ANR1 expression in roots of hydroponically grown Arabidopsis plants was specifically regulated by changes in the N supply, being induced by N deprivation and rapidly repressed by N re-supply. This pattern of N responsiveness differs from the NO3− -inducibility of ANR1 previously observed in Arabidopsis root cultures [H.M. Zhang and B.G. Forde (1998) Science 279:407–409]. Seven of the other MADS-box genes responded to N in a manner similar to ANR1, but less strongly, while four (AGL12, AGL17, AGL18 and AGL79) were unaffected. Six of the N-regulated genes (ANR1, AGL14, AGL16, AGL19, SOC1 and AGL21) belong to just two clades within the type II MADS-box lineage, while the other two (AGL26 and AGL56) belong to the poorly characterized type I lineage. Only SOC1 was additionally found to respond to changes in the P and S supply, suggesting a possible role in a general response to nutrient stress. Studies with an ANR1 transposon-insertion mutant provided no evidence for regulatory interactions between ANR1 and the other root-expressed MADS-box genes. The implications of the current data for our understanding of the role of ANR1 and other MADS box genes in the nutritional regulation of lateral root growth are discussed.