Inorganic nitrogen is a substrate for nitrogen assimilation and also functions as a signal triggering widespread changes in gene expression that modulate metabolism and development. To integrate the actions of the nitrogen signal at the whole plant level, plants use multiple signaling routes that communicate internal and external nitrogen status. One route depends on nitrate itself and one uses cytokinin as a messenger. Recent genome-wide research has shown that the nitrate-specific signal regulates a wide variety of metabolic processes including nitrogen and carbon metabolism, and cytokinin biosynthesis. Cytokinin-mediated signaling is related to the control of development, protein synthesis and acquisition of macronutrients. The coordination and interaction of both regulatory pathways is important for normal plant growth under variable nitrogen supply conditions.